After four years at university, I’m no longer naive to the fact that failing is part of life. If you got a degree without failing a homework, quiz or test, congratulations to you. For everyone else, here is my comprehensive list of almost everything that could go wrong and University and how to make it better.
Here are my solutions to 10 common problems at university:
- “HELP! MY PROFESSOR SUCKS!” Yeah, I know. Everyone knows. But all the other courses are full and you need this class to graduate on time. So suck it up, get your hands on some exams from last year, and teach yourself with the textbook. You got this.
- “Where is everyone getting the old exams? Do I really need to pay for a tutor?” As a student, its crucial to your survival to make friends in your major. Make friends who are in your year AND above your year in school. You can find friends through clubs and organizations at your university, your job, research, volunteer work, and even professional fraternities and sororities. For example, one of the sororities at my university required members to spend a certain number of hours tutoring students, whether they were in Greek life or not. Tutors can definitely be found at low cost.
- “I asked a professor a question and he laughed at me.” I promise they don’t hate you. Professors have studied their subjects for over 25 years in some cases, so pretty much any question you have seems dumb to them. I tend to leave professors alone unless I’m really stuck on a problem and attempted to solve it a couple times. Try asking the teaching assistants or adjunct professors for help, they are usually more approachable.
- “I’m literally failing everything.” I said this to a tutor and he made me go through all the syllabi and calculate my GPA. Turns out I was passing. Make sure you use a GPA calculator, there are tons online, before you start freaking out. Depending on what happens next, you may need to drop some courses or get a tutor for your hardest ones. I call last-minute tutoring “damage control”.
- “I have an exam in two hours and know nothing.” I also call this “damage control”. Chances are, you know something. At this point, its too late to try to cram everything from the last five weeks into your brain. If it’s a math class or something similar, pick 1 or 2 examples from each chapter, walk through the solution, and try to solve it on your own. Don’t pick exceptionally easy, difficult, or time-consuming problems. Professors usually pick medium-level questions because that’s all they have time for, and the easy ones just aren’t worth asking.
- “Okay, I’m actually passing by a hair.” Sign up for some GPA boosters to pad your overall GPA. If you’re majoring in pharmacy but you have a secret passion for photography, take a cinema or art class! Not only will the non-academic class work as stress relief, but also you’ll appreciate the mini-GPA boost from taking a slightly easier class. Sure, it could mean bumping your 18-credit semester up to a 20-credit one, but you’ll thank me later.
- “I’m too broke to even buy pizza this week.” Money is a huge issue for college students and it only gets worse the longer you stay in school. While I can’t solve the student debt crisis in one blog post, I can tell you that applying for scholarships really helped me. Even if you don’t win the scholarship, sometimes you can get awarded an “honorable mention” for your effort. If you let your professors know that you’re in a financial bind but you want to do research, they may also be willing to pay you to work in the lab during your spare time. There are also campus jobs like grading papers and answering phone calls. Finally, you can apply for extra student loans if the other options don’t pan out.
- “My roommate has a 4.0 GPA and goes out every night. HOW?” This happens. You could spend your entire semester getting 8 hours of sleep and do nothing else but eat and study, only to get the same grade as someone who spent their entire time partying like its 1999. My realization is that sometimes skipping out on great life experiences because you have a test the next day isn’t worth it. You can enjoy yourself in school, have a social life, and still do your best on your exams. It’s a matter of discipline and organization. At the end of the day, missing sleep for one night or going out for Taco Tuesday isn’t going to kill you. Owning and writing in a planner can help you keep track of your schedule.
- “The stress is overwhelming.” Sometimes I think I’m the only person who gets stressed about college. I’ll be sitting in class just looking around and wondering if anyone else understands what’s going on when all I see is a sea of blank faces. And some sleeping ones. Occasionally I take trips to visit family to ground myself and have some peace and quiet away from university. When my family comes to visit I like to stay in the hotel with them so I have a little sense of vacation too. Use on-campus resources like dog visits, massage days, free tea, or counseling.
- “I want to join clubs but I’m not sure which one, or if I have the time.” The amount of things to do at university is super exciting but its also difficult to find where you fit in. I tried out various clubs during my undergrad but I ended up blogging more than anything else, which is kind of my own club because I’ve got tons of people to interact with online. Ultimately it’s up to you to decide where you want to spend your time, whether it be doing separate events or getting heavily involved with one specific group. Some universities will even let you start your own, so feel free to grab some friends and start a sisterhood-of-the-traveling-pants sort of thing!
I hope my tips help. If you’ve already graduated, do you have any tips that I might have missed? Did you join any special clubs or have any tricky classes? Let me know!
Also, thanks everyone who took the survey on climate change that was linked to in I’m Going Green. The professor loved our group project!
Sincerely, Jess 🙂