Tips from a College Graduate

Written by Amanda Anderson

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College is an amazing opportunity to learn and grow as an individual. Especially if it is the first time a youth or young adult may be leaving home and what has been comfortable for them their whole life. However, it can also be one of the most overwhelming and stressful experiences one can undertake. There is so much pressure from friends, family and mentors to know entering into the college experience what exactly we want to leave with and what should be written on that diploma on that last day. You're comparing yourself to your peers who are also graduating alongside you or what others’ online are doing to pursue their careers. It can weigh on you. Young adults are in constant fear of failure and feeling like they have fallen behind when they are exactly right on track.

When I began college, I set ideas and plans that I believed would never waiver. Today, I laugh and how strongly I believed change was negative and that that would lead to growth. Growth does not stem from standstill. Being a young person growing into adulthood is one of the most pivotal times to explore your identity and try on different hats. And as a University of Tennessee at Chattanooga I believe I did just that and walked away with some advice that may help anyone who may be nervous when starting their college experience.

My first tip is to be yourself… I know… pretty cliche, but it's true! There are going to be so many temptations in college and pressure to be someone that may not, at the core, truly represent your values and goals. Sometimes that can be uncomfortable and maybe you won't be the most popular person in the room for it but you'll be you. Integrity was one of the most important aspects of myself that I didn't want to lose when starting college. You might be thinking to yourself, how do I do this? It is a combination of checking in with yourself and surrounding yourself with the right people that will hold you accountable when you're losing your way and environments that inspire you to grow.

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Another tip would be to stay organized and clean! When I first started college I set myself up for success by purchasing a planner and a new journal. Making sure you are writing down your daily and long term goals and tasks as well as having a journal to release all of your inner dialogue can help keep you on track! Every morning I would make sure I started my day cleaning up what little messes I had made from the day before by making my bed, washing some dishes or putting clothes away. Also each week I would choose a set day of the week to deep clean my dorm room and bathroom.

Next, make sure you focus on the presentation. As important as it is to be comfortable, it can also lead to a sluggish day. As they say, when you look good, you feel good! When I was in college, I would pick out my outfit the night before so that in the morning I did not even have to think about what to wear. Especially when you have an eight am class, it can be difficult to do the necessary tasks to feel good. Take the extra time to make sure you feel your most confident when leaving for your day.

Lastly, setting a routine for yourself is essential to staying productive and motivaited. Every Sunday I would write down my routine for each day in my planner with regards to any sorority or club activities that I am also a part of. Homework assignments and studying can be extremely daunting and overwhelming at first glance. Say you have a test on a Friday, try studying for 30 minutes each day starting on a Monday instead of cramming the night before for hours and hours. Each task or event is labeled with a time and an amount of time to complete it. It is up to you and what is helpful for you!

No matter what tips you take away from this, just remember that you don't have to have it all figured out by the first day, first year or even the second year. It can feel like you're always one step behind everyone else and that you are the only one. Trust me, everyone's just trying to hide that they also don't know what they're doing and that they're scared. Just know you can do whatever you set your mind to, don't give up! And if you're struggling, there are resources to utilize such as campus counselors, academic counselors and leadership clubs. Share this and let us know what your tips are for incoming college students.

Author Description
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Amanda Anderson is the Social Media Marketing Specialist for Tennessee Voices and the Healthy Transitions program. She is an alum of the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga and graduated with a bachelor’s degree in Communications with a focus on both Public Administration and Nonprofit Management.

From a young age Amanda knew she wanted to help people and as she grew up she also found a love for the arts through music, photography, journalism, fashion, painting and digital creation. “I think the key to happiness is combining your passions and talents and helping others! That is why what I do is so fulfilling and why I am so grateful to have been given the opportunity to do what I do”. She also helps to host the Statewide Young Adult Leadership Council which meets every second Saturday of the month in which she collaborates with the youth council members on openly discussing topics related to leadership, mental health, advocacy and more!

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