5 Tips to Have a Life-Changing College Experience
Here is the advice I would give myself as a college freshman almost 5 years ago.
1. Read 5 Pages a Day... Every Day
Reading has been the biggest game-changer for me in the last 3 years. These are the 4 books I read during the last two years of my college career that changed the way I live my life:
Spark shifted my thinking about exercise from, "It's something I want to do" to, "it's something I need to do".
Why We Sleep made me understand why sleep was my ultimate tool for learning and looking better. After reading this book, sleep became a priority which forced me to build a more disciplined daily schedule.
After years of holding back from showing who I really was when I met new people, this book made me realize that being myself was my biggest social asset. More importantly, this shift in mentality made it easier for me to talk to and flirt with women that I was attracted to.
Atomic habits is the book that gave me a structure for how to live my life. I had always wanted to constantly get better, but I never had an effective system to learn skills. After reading this book I understood how to build skills and get better every day.
It only takes one sentence in a book to change your way of thinking, which will change your life. READ, EVERY, DAY.
5 pages a day is the way I began to read consistently. You only have to read 5 pages to win for the day. If you want to read more, which you often will, then great, but you are not obligated to. If you hate a book, take some of Tim Ferriss's advice, and stop reading it. Only read books about subjects that you are interested in learning more about.
"The mind is made to generate thoughts and ideas, not to store them." - I forgot who said that
This quote seems to be true. Keeping thoughts in your mind, especially important ones, take up valuable mental resources that could be used for more learning. If you have a problem, write about it. If you're excited about something, write about it. If you are going through a rough period...WRITE ABOUT IT. Journaling is a conversation with yourself, but unlike those that you have in your mind, a conversation you can read on paper is much easier to analyze objectively. When you can analyze your thoughts more objectively it is easier to find your next course of action on the matter.
Seeing your thoughts on paper also makes it easy to understand the way you think. This is important because you can begin to see when you are overthinking things, being overdramatic, or running into any of your other habitual tendencies that add unnecessary stress to your life.
Buy a journal that you can carry with you to class. These journals will also serve as time capsules for you, which will allow you to see how much you have grown over the next four years. Try to buy something that will last you for many years to come. My go-to notebook used to be the XL Moleskin Notebooks, but now I prefer the Dingbats Notebooks.
3. 1 Primary Organization & 2 backups
There are so many new things to try in college. My advice is to choose 3 organizations that really interest you. After the first meeting drop the ones that you do not like and replace them with other organizations you were interested in.
Decide which one will be your primary organization for that semester. This primary organization is the one that you will prioritize over all other organizations by attending as many of their events and meetings as you can. The purpose of this is to go deep into learning whatever skill the organization will teach you. Trying to balance all three orgs along with school will probably result in you being one of the background characters of the organization. By focusing primarily on one organization you will also build deeper relationships.
The two backup organizations are insurance in the case that somewhere along the semester you lose interest in the primary one. If you no longer are interested in the organization, drop it. Staying longer will result in time wasted that you could have used to find something you love.
Here are a couple of mistakes I made in my college years when dealing with organizations:
I did not commit to one organization and ended up trying to be a part of several organizations. This resulted in me being someone no one really knew. I also did not learn much from my time spent at the meetings I attended.
I stayed deeply involved in an organization for an entire semester, even though I hated it. This was my least favorite semester in college because I wasted time and energy that I could have used to learn Latin dance, which is something that I loved.
4. Invest In Exercise
Exercise is the cure to your stress. If you can make your primary organization one that deals with learning a physical skill, such as a sport or some type of dance, you will not only develop comradery with new people who are there to learn the same skill, but you will also get the physiological benefits of exercise (for more on these benefits I recommend reading the book Spark or googling a summary of the book). Some of these benefits are reducing your stress, lifting your mood, and increasing your ability to focus throughout your day.
Whether your organization involves doing something physical or not, I still recommend picking up a daily exercise routine so that you can experience these benefits every day.
These benefits are why I say you should invest in exercise. Although money helps make some physical activities more accessible, it is not necessary. One of my new favorite exercise routines involves nothing but my body weight. Use this time in college to find something physical that you love because there is something out there for everyone. Do this, and you will benefit from it even after college.
5. Rapidly Expand Your Social Circle
Who you spend your time with will affect who you become. It is important to actively engage with people you find interesting. People you meet in class and in your organizations will be the easiest to connect with because you will see them on a consistent basis. Consistency with your interactions is the key to building a deeper relationship. After establishing some comfort with these new people invite them to join you in an activity or event outside of the setting you met them in. This will deepen the relationship further. Repeat this process until you find yourself spending most of your time around people you find interesting and that you connect with.
If you want to change who you are, then begin by realizing that you are the average of the people you spend most of your time with.
Above all, just enjoy the ride.