Welcome back to another story time revolving around my four years at the University of New Hampshire. Today, we’ll be looking at what was arguably my best year of college. My junior year was when everything that happened in my first two years finally helped me click and find my place. This was my best year academically. This was the year where I started feeling good about myself. It seemed like everything was falling into place. Junior year was full of charm and what you want in a year of college. In a lot of ways at least.
During my junior year of college, I lived alone. I had a single dorm room and that was the reason, I think, for a lot of my success that school year. I didn’t have to worry about roommates. I could recharge myself without having to be surrounded by other people. I could care for my mental health and needs without worrying about being in the view of others. I finally had a space that was all mine. That doesn’t mean that I closed myself off to others. On the contrary, if I was in my room and open to talk, I had my door open and anyone could stop by to chat. I was in my zone.
Being able to live on my own like this was the culmination of two years of honestly shitty living situations and my parents and I recognizing that for the sake of my mental health and everything else, I needed to be in a single room. Not to mention that by the end of my second year of college, I was fully comfortable being alone. Being alone gave me this feeling of freedom and encouraged me to find myself and start finding comfort in adult life. What people don’t tell you about your twenties is that you can be alone. A lot. Even if you have friends and a significant other and family, you can still find yourself alone a lot of the time. You have to come to terms with that or deal with the consequences.
Tip #1: Being alone is okay. While you may be uncomfortable eating meals alone or going days without seeing friends, it is something that happens. As you get older, people get busy and it can be hard to make time every day to spend time with people. College is your chance to get use that and test the waters. Eat alone if you’re hungry and no one is around. Find some time to rest your mind. Be one with yourself.
After finding my comfort zone in one dormitory for two years, my junior year was when I finally started branching out. This was my first year where I finally started to make friends in my major and in my classes. I was not of my dorm with people who didn’t live there a bit more often. Doing this brought me to my best friend in college, Callie. While we were definitely a slow burn friendship, she is now the only one that I still talk to from college. We had most of the same classes and soon found that we had a lot in common. I wouldn’t have her in my life post-college if I didn’t start branching out.
Tip #2: Make friends in your major. This probably seems like a “no duh” tip but some people, like a young me, need to hear it. These are the people who are going to understand your college experience best. They’re going through the same things! Get to know the people who are in your classes, especially if you have a lot of the same classes. It’ll pay off in the end! Plus you not only get friends, but a strong professional network after graduating!
Work Hard, Play Hard
One of the reasons that my junior year of college was my best year of college has to do with my study habits and working. The year before, I had been hired to be a social media assistant for the University of New Hampshire Social Media team. This was the best job I’ve ever had, honestly. I had so many opportunities given to me that I wouldn’t have had otherwise. I’ll get a bit more into that in the concluding piece of this series next week but with this job in my junior year, I was able to go to film festivals, be the social media manager for a TEDx talk, I covered sporting events, and met with important people at the university who don’t usually meet with students. It was great but could be a bit of hard work. With that, I was working harder in classes that I ever had before. I finally had adapted my study habits to be what they needed to be in college. It took some time and, honestly, it took being on my own and knowing that I didn’t have to worry about my zen zone being disrupted. I then was able to reward myself with some fun and trying new things more often.
Tip #3: Find a Work Study/Internship that you love. I know that this sounds difficult. I know that, in a lot of cases, you’re getting a work study that you tolerate because you’re getting a few extra bucks in your pocket. If you can though, find something you enjoy and that gives you opportunities. This goes for internships too. Find something that can help you grow professionally and as a person.
Tip #4: Discover Your Study Zen Zone. Hopefully you’ve done this by now but if now, try studying in different places and in different ways until you find what works for you. I found that my best work happened when I was in my own room with music playing. I also would do a mix for hand written notes (for the classes where I was taking notes) and typing up the most important stuff for easy access. Not to mention organizing my time so that everything got the time dedicated to it that it needs.
I’m going to leave Junior Year here and keep it simple. What is your college story? Share with me in the comments!