Lies Commonly told to Graduates/College Students

This is a post that has been stewing around in my head for quite awhile. As a sophomore, almost a junior in college, I have heard A LOT of these. The unfortunate thing is people often think they are being helpful or supportive by offering these words of advice though I think sometimes they can do more harm than good. So, I’m going to quickly go through a few of these and say my peace as to why I have a problem with each of the selected phrases. Let’s get to it now, shall we?

1. “Just follow your dreams.”

This is a super loaded statement, nor is it particularly helpful. Students should consider a variety of factors which includes but it not only limited to their passions. If you ONLY consider this singular variable, this could lead you to a precarious position. Pursue your passions, of course, but also consider that that doesn’t always mean making it your career.

2. “The next step is always college/higher education.”

College is expensive. I think we all know this. If you’re not entirely sure if it’s the right next step for you, maybe take a step back and look at your options. There are alternatives to college. There is something to be said for trade schools or simply applying to entry level jobs and working your way up.

3. “You need to decide X, Y, and Z right now.” & “You can’t change your mind.”

Some decisions are time sensitive but decisions such as what you choose to major in, what career you’re working towards, etc. can be changed. So while it may be technically true that you need to choose a field of study soon after graduating, this is also a decision that can be

4. “Just find something that will make you money.”

Money, like your passions, is a factor that must be considered while planning your future. It should not, however, be considered solely. Again, like your passions, it is one of a few factors to think about.

I think if you were to summarize all these phrases and my problems with them is that they offer little to no nuance on a subject that depends highly on the person and their specific set of circumstances. There is no one way to live your life and certain decisions and life styles suit some people and not others. So, if you know a graduate and want to support them, do so by letting them know that no one really has it figured out in adulthood. Tell them that they should try new things and do their best. Tell them to prepared to work hard but also enjoy some little things about being an adult now. It seems scary at first, but you can do it!

How to Tackle Test Anxiety

Welp, my winter break will be over next week, as much as it saddens me to say. So, in honor of that, I’ve decided to do yet another college/school related post to help all the students out there. If you’re like me, you struggle with a little bit of test anxiety so below I’m going to leave my personal tips on how you can tackle the little testing butterflies. Enjoy, readers & fellow students!

★Make a study plan.

Be prepared for this test. Know in your mind that you’re doing what you can. Don’t burn yourself out studying but definitely make a plan of attack so you can walk into your test feeling more confident in yourself and your abilities.

★Practice positive self talk.

Encourage yourself. Tell yourself that you are capable. But also remind yourself that your worth is not derived from your performance.

★Get plenty of sleep the night before.

This plays into your mindset going into the test. You will feel worse about yourself if your sluggish and exhausted from studying all night.

★Have a nice breakfast or meal before leaving for school in the morning.

You want your brain ready for this test. Plus, sometimes having something on your stomach can squelch that “pukey” feeling. Coffee on an empty stomach can sometimes make that feeling worse as it’s pretty acidic.

★Visualize Success.

Think about how good it will feel to have the test out of the way and, even better, making a good grade on it.

★Give yourself practice tests.

This will help you get used to the feeling of being tested on these things and will help you study the material itself.

★Separate your fears.

Some fears are ridiculous and sometimes you gotta recognize that. Some are founded and I would recommend talking those fears out with someone close to you or a teacher or even writing them down. But the fear that “everyone will think I’m a moron and a failure” is probably not a very realistic one. It definitely exists in your head sometimes as I know it can exist in mine, but it is vital to label these fears as lies that we agonize over.

★Let go of perfectionism

You’re not going to make all A’s all the time. That’s not realistic. Definitely study in hopes of getting an A, but please don’t put pressure on yourself to be perfect all the time. College is hard and can be even harder if we heap insane expectations upon ourselves.

★During the test, remember to breath and think positively

Take it one question at a time. Select the answers you know are correct first and then go back. If you find yourself spiraling into fear and self doubt, take a moment to take a deep breath and remind yourself of your past successes and that you can do this.

★Don’t obsess over questions

Agonizing over a question can often result in you changing the correct answer (your gut answer) to a wrong one as you second guess yourself. Check your answers but don’t obsess over them.

★Keep it in perspective.

Your life doesn’t hang in the balance here. This is a test. And while you want to do well, sometimes you’ve just gotta do your best and what will be will be. Besides, you’ll probably do worse on the test if you’re feeling rattled. It is in your best interest to keep it all in perspective and have a healthy mindset going into it.

Remember, you can do this!

Not-so Cute Study Tips

★Maybe take a break from that coffee? It can make you jittery sometimes and keep you from hydrating. Grab a quick glass of water instead of another coffee refill.

Messy notes are a thousand times better than no notes. As long as you can read what you wrote, keep charging on. Your notes don’t have to look cute, just legible and somewhat organized.

Showing up to class looking a little sloppy is better than not showing up at all. I know its tempting to skip but it is a risky decision. Plus, you don’t want to use of your “sick days” for when you just don’t feel like going or you got up a little late.

Take a shower if you feel like you can’t study anymore. Refresh your mind a little.

★You don’t have to do a deep clean, but try and make sure that at least the surface of your desk is somewhat clean and clear. This will help you focus.

Seriously, turn your notifications off.

★Try and stay on top of laundry to where you have at least one clean outfit-preferably the one you’re wearing.

Sleeping the night before a test will probably do you more good than pulling an all-nighter. Wake up with a little time to eat breakfast and drink a whole glass of water before the exam. The information you crammed the night before is useless if you’re so lethargic that you can’t recall it.

Packed lunches will save you a lot of money.

If you’re feeling groggy mid-study session, try moving around a little. Get some fresh air, it does wonders.

You don’t have to feel “cute” all the time to be productive. Romanticizing your education and schoolwork is awesome unless it starts to get in the way of your work. You don’t have to have perfect notes all the time & drink those aesthetically pleasing iced lattes so much. At the end of the day, it’s about the work you put in.

Remember, you can do this!

How to Romanticize Studying

Studying doesn’t have to be a “cute” experience all the time, but sometimes it just feel nice to pretend you’re in a dark academia film or something. And for those of us who sometimes struggle to come up with the motivation to study, makin the process a little fun when we can is a nice thing to do our ourselves.

★Make a playlist

With whatever music you love. Though I do personally recommend something that fits the “vibe” of your study session. This could be orchestral or lo-fi or whatever feels “right”.

★Find Inspo

Make yourself a cute little moodboard on pinterest to find inspiration on how to arrange your study space to look pretty and pleasing to the eyes.

★rewrite your notes to be pretty

Not only does this help you study, but it also means your notes look cleaner and more organized, therefore being easier on the eyes.

★A clean desk. and a clean room for that matter

Your brain might feel cluttered if your space is cluttered. Do a quick little room and desk clean and actually try to make your bed. It does wonders.

★Drink/Eat warm things

Tea, coffee, croissants, bread, soup, whatever. Warm things definitely help the vibe. Though remember to not skimp out on your water.

★Make yourself feel cute

Maybe tie your hair up with a ribbon or change into a warm sweater. Anything that makes you feel more put-together.

★Consider fairylights or some sort of cool lighting decor

Totally optional (well, technically this entire list is) but I personally am a huge fan of lamps and fairylights. You can find them pretty cheap on amazon and they really add a cozy touch to your space.

★Light a candle

Candles are pretty plus they make your room smell great. Double points!

And that’s all for now! Good luck, my fellow students! Study hard!

How to Juggle being a Writer & Student

Hello everyone! It’s me! Winter break has been kind to my thus far and I am super relieved finals are over at long last. And even though I’ll miss some of my teachers and class, overall, I’m excited I don’t have to worry about the whole writing & school juggling thing that I have to do for the majority of the year.

Admittedly, some weeks I’m better at it than others. But I’d be lying if I said I hadn’t picked up a few tips and tricks along the way that help me balance writing and doing homework/attending classes like a good college student. And here are a few.

Read

Reading gets your brain in that “book” mindset. It helps exercise your brain and keeps you sharp and in the zone to write. Plus, reading other people’s books is always a marvelous way for you to pick up writing nuances and techniques that you could employ in your own work when you finally have the time to work on it.

Write between classes

Filling up the random chunks of time you have between classes with a bit of writing never hurt anyone. In fact, you don’t even need to sit down and write for a long time. I had a goal of a 200 daily word goal throughout the semester and while I didn’t manage it everyday, most times I met it while writing between my biology lab and poetry class.

Write on breaks

I mean during Winter break, spring break- whatever you feel like you can manage. But I do caution people in the event that they really need the mental break for themselves and not for writing, that is 100% fine too. I did that many times throughout the school year. At first it made me feel guilty as I felt I was wasting precious writing time, but really, sometimes the mental rest is worth more.

Write in more chill ways

For example, journaling. Or roleplaying with your friends. Or writing a blog post. Or setting a timer for five minutes to crank out a flash fiction piece. Writing a little or badly is better than not writing at all. Quantity over quality is a philosophy that applies to writing as you naturally get better with more practice.

★Be kind to yourself

Just keep in mind that you’re student. You have limits. And school is going to cut into your writing time quite a bit. That’s just the reality of it. School also might cut into your “mental space” to where you don’t have the brain power to write all the time. And that’s fine too. It’s a hard thing, juggling two parts of yourself, and sometimes you just need to step away from it all and just be a person.

Not a writer.

Not a student.

Just you.

And that is enough.

How to Study like a Slytherin

★ You like to see how much you can get done in a day.

★ Set goals! You have clear goals that you can work towards.

★ You handwrite your notes and sometimes rewrite them.

★ You do homework the day it’s given.

★ You study the concepts first so you can understand the finer details later.

★ You drink coffee. (but remember to eat too otherwise you’ll get jittery)

★ You set your goals high but but I also want to recommend making sure your expectations are realistic so you often surprise yourself by doing better than you expected (but also you don’t feel defeated if you don’t completely achieve the high bar you’ve set for yourself).

★ You’re on good terms with everyone in class so if you need additional resources, you know who to call.

★ You do a little schoolwork every day.

★ Lots of self-imposed deadlines.

★ You turn your fear of failure into motivation to do well.

★ You re-work or double check your answers.

★ You minimize distractions.

★ You don’t rush things.

★ You listen to lyric-less music.

How to Study Like a Hufflepuff

★ You communicate with your teachers.

★ You use your professor’s office hours if needed.

★ You organize study groups.

★ You make your own study guides.

★ You stay hydrated.

★ You dress how you want to feel.

★ You break big tasks into smaller ones so they’re more manageable.

★ You have a good light source so your brain stays awake (e.x. studying beside a window).

★ If you ever have questions, you reach out.

★ You make post-it notes that summarize every chapter or concept that you need to solidify

★ You almost always drink something warm while studying.

★ You use quirky little word-plays and brain hacks to help you remember names and info.

★ You play Games for learning vocabulary. 

★ You have prepared a few study snacks.

How to Study Like A Ravenclaw

★Cute and organized stationary is a must have. You come into studying PREPARED.

★Draw pictures and diagrams when you can.

★Use pens. Particularly the cool kind that erase. The way the ink flows onto the page is supremely satisfying.

★You review your notes daily.

★You think critically on the subject matter you are studying.

★ You do the additional reading.

★ You prioritize. The important tasks get done first.

★ Lists, lists, lists, and more lists!!

★ You actually study at a desk.

★ You check your sources before you cite them.

★ You utilize planners and study apps

★ You drink tea over coffee.

★ You don’t ignore what you don’t understand. You follow up and figure it out.

★ You take five minute breaks when needed before diving back in.

★ You know your limits as well what you are in control of.

How to Study Like A Gryffindor

★ You know your weaknesses (generally your tendency to procrastinate and have a short attention span) and you design your studying around them.

★ You have an arsenal of study snacks so you won’t have a reason to get up and break your focus.

★ You ask questions, no matter how trivial they seem.

★You sit at the front of the classroom so you are forced to pay attention as well as particpate.

★ You listen to lots of different music to keep you pumped.

★ Any learning concept that can be learned through moving around or have an hands-on approach, you utilize.

★ You try and teach other people to help you solidify any concepts you’re shaky on.

★ You work to manage your time well.

★ You probably study in bed (I don’t recommend this though. Consider studying on a bean bag chair instead).

★ You take a shower if you find yourself burning out to refresh yourself.

★ If you have the chance to do extra credit, you take it!!

★ You read notes aloud to help you remember concepts.

★ You color code.

★ You are confident in your ability to learn and comprehend this, but not so much so that you don’t study or are lazy.

Tips on Studying for an Exam (especially when memorization is involved)

★Flash cards!

And while I know there are a lot of nifty online flashcard making sites like quizlet and so forth, but I personally recommend getting your own index cards and making your own by hand. Making the cards itself can help you study, plus if you’re ever somewhere without access to the internet, your phone, or computer, you can pull your cards out and study. Plus, it just really helps your memory to lay the cards out in various ways and studying them. Remember, the more physical movement involved in your studying, the more likely you are to retain the information.

★Make your own study guide.

Seriously. It helps you study while making it but can also be invaluable when actually studying. Memorize the information by covering up the answers to said study guide and writing the answers out, by hand. Which brings me to my next tip-

★Write things out you need to memorize

Not type. Write. If you’re handwriting is bad, don’t worry about it. That’s not the point. The point is to memorize and studies show that people are more likely to remember something when they write it out by hand.

★Recite and Read Out loud

And if you’re wondering if this is another memory thing, it is. Read your stuff out loud to your sibling, cat, your breakfast, whatever you want. Just solidify those words in your head and attach sounds to them. Again, you’ll be a lot more likely to remember.

★Take breaks

Your brain can only really focus for about an hour before wondering off into oblivion. So, every hour, walk around a little and take a well-deserved break. Study smarter, not harder.

★Don’t wait till the last second to study

We’ve all tried. And it rarely works out. And even when it does, the amount of stress you undergo the day before is not worth it. Do yourself a favor, and start as soon as possible.

★Reward yourself

Try and prevent burnout not only be taking breaks, but rewarding yourself if you can. My favorite way to do this, is if I’ve studied a long time, I’ll allow myself to buy an iced coffee before hitting the books again. Find out what little ways you can give your brain dopamine and integrate that into your study time.

★Eat food. Drink water.

Do you know how utterly useless your brain is when you’re dehydrated and hungry? Pretty darn useless. And even if you feel like you’re making progress, you’re probably are fatigued by a head ache. That’s why I mean it when I say to feed yourself and drink water. Not coffee. Not a smoothie. Water.

★Don’t attach your performance on this test to your self-worth

This is more of a mindset tip, but it concerns your preparation for this test. No matter what, PLEASE do not attach your performance on this test to your grade. Please. Speaking as someone who lived this her freshman semester, this does not help your testing abilities. You will probably find yourself a nervous wreck before, after, and during the test, therefore hindering your memory. The more stressed out you are, the more likely you are to forget stuff. And then if you don’t get the grade you wanted, you feel super defeated and it’s much harder to bounce back from a bad grade or a failed test when you possess this mindset. So do yourself a favor, and trash it. Try your hardest and the rest of it will workout.