6 lessons learned in the first month of college



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It has officially been a month since I made a one-way trip to Athens, Ohio to study journalism at the E.W Scripps School of Journalism. In this first month, I have discovered both a whole new world and a whole new me. Being in college has introduced me to life lessons in many different categories including academics, extracurriculars, and social life. Therefore, I wanted to share the following six life lessons that I have learned about college thus far:


Motivation is the first step to success: If you make the effort to come to class, do your homework and reading your textbook in advance, then you are already on your way to success. Being motivated is the first step to succeeding in college (and in life). In order to be successful you have to want it, and be willing to put in the time and effort to earn it. Furthermore, if you are determined to follow your dreams, you then are ultimately taking the first step in accomplishing them.


Popularity no longer matters: Whether you were the star of your high school or not, popularity no longer matters in college. Especially in larger schools, there are just far too many students to know all of them. Furthermore, everyone is taking a different path in life and planning to go in vastly different directions. For this reason, college becomes a lot more of networking than sheer popularity. Instead of popularity, you begin to find your group of friends based on goals, morals, and passions. Some students party, some play sports, and some watch bad movies that try to modernize the Shakespeare play “Othello” (and if you had not guessed, the third is base on a real experience haha). However, no matter how you relax or socialize, you will be able to find friends who are the same way.


Be yourself, but your new and improved self: College is a new opportunity in an entirely new environment. Moreover, if there was something you did not like about yourself in high school now is your chance to change it! College is all about transitioning into the person you want to become. So take advantage of all the extracurriculars, activities, and resources your college offers in order to make yourself your best self. For example, OU has Zumba classes, a swimming pool, and even sushi burritos (yes they do taste like heaven!). By taking time to try new ways of working out and new foods I have been able to enjoy my time on campus and learn about new interests. In addition to fun hidden gems on campus, I found joining organizations (such as The New Political, Mock Trial team, etc.) has helped me engage in organizations that further my journalism and law passions. Ultimately, joining clubs that you are interested in and staying active in those can help you find your new and improved self.


Embrace your new independence: In college, independence becomes your new best friend. With the drastic increase of freedom comes an equal amount of responsibilities. You have to learn to be self-sufficient and maintain your own grades, activities, social life, and health. From doing laundry to balancing school and social, it is important to know yourself well in order keeps all the pieces in place. If this is something you are still learning to manage, start using a planner, and sketch in time for homework, classes, social, and even meals. It can be amazing how easy those are to skip if you are not used to planning everything for yourself. Setting up group study session, social events. or even planning to do laundry with a friend can be a great way to practice holding yourself accountable.


Stay in contact with those closest to you: Most of the people you saw in high school will not be present in your new life. Therefore, maintaining a relationship with best friends, and family is something you have to want to maintain. While many “college tip books” will say that seeing your family before the first six to eight weeks is a bad idea, this is not always the case. As a close friend said to me early on, you have to do what is best for you and your unique situation. If you are anything like myself, and you have an extremely close family and a group of friends. Which means, it can be more harmful than helpful to cut them off. Therefore, having family come visit (or even traveling home for the weekend if possible) can be a great way of staying connected with those you love. If physical trips are not ideal, phone calls and FaceTime sessions can be perfect. Remembering it is important to maintain a balance of new friends and old friend is the best way of keeping yourself surrounded by the people who make you your best self.


You can stay substance free in college: I’m serious! (and living proof!) That you can enjoy college without drugs and alcohol. While college is typically stereotyped to be a place of partying and experimenting, I can say for certain that you can have fun in other ways. Most colleges have a recreation center, art shows, movie nights, and other events that they put on for student enjoyment. It is important to know that if you are someone who is not interested in drugs or alcohol, there are plenty of others like you on campus!


I hope these tips are helpful to other fellow college student. If you have other life lessons that you learned in your first month of college, feel free to comment below!

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1 Comment

  1. Dale S. Horne says:

    What an amazing post! Sarah, if you continue on this path, and I have no reason to believe you would stray, you will have incredible opportunities and a wonderful life.

    AND, I found no grammatical or context errors.

    Love, Dad

    Dale S. Horne, MD, PhD, FACS


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