By: Tiara Samosir, Journalism student at Humber College
This article originally appeared on i-studentglobal on May 19, 2015.
With college tuition rates on the rise and job-hunting tougher than the Hunger Games, many of us are juggling between our full-time studies and a part-time job during our time in college. As much as we want to narrow down our focus to one, never-ending bills and other needs make it impossible to leave our job.
In addition to that, there are even more struggles that we have to deal with. As an international student who has traveled approximately 10,000 miles and lives on my own to study, I understand the struggles of culture shock and homesickness. In fact, until this moment I still miss my mom’s homemade lasagna and family weekly movie time. But one thing that we need to keep in mind is that we have to put those struggles as our strengths. Not everyone is as lucky as us to have the opportunity to study abroad in a country that embraces multiculturalism and having a job in the meantime. Looking at how much stuff we have and will miss out on, doing the best we can at school is an obligation.
Here’s what I believe, surviving years in college is more than just managing your time. It’s more about managing your life. You’ve passed High School, which means you’ve done your preparation in stepping into the real world. But before you do so, you’ll get a trial, and that trial is what college is all about.
From someone who managed to survive a nine-course semester, a part-time job, and few on-call volunteer works, I believe I’m qualified to tell you how I did it.
Write down your goal.
All of your hard work, tears and sleepless nights would be meaningless if you don’t know what you want to achieve. Before making the decision, make sure you know what your goal is and the decision you’re about to make is getting you closer to it.
Writing it down helps to create a vision of you achieving your goal, and that vision will give you that anxious, exciting feeling that you have to get it. A goal should be very personal because you are the one who will be working on it and achieving it. You can write “World Peace” or “Becoming the Next President” if you want, or you can write simple goals such as “Graduating with AT LEAST 75 per cent average” like I did. The reason I wrote that wasn’t because I didn’t dream as big as you, but because I had to put a time frame of when I should accomplish mine, and since I came here to study, I put that as my goal.
For me personally, I do this because this helps me to plan my next move and what needs to be done in order to be closer to my goal. If you have more than one goal, don’t worry. As long as those goals are realistic and achievable in the given time frame, write them down. Write them down everywhere.
Be mentally ready.
At first, you’d think having a part-time when you’re in school is a normal thing to do. You go to school on weekdays and work in the weekends. It’s doable. Everybody does it. It’s true, but there will be some hard days when you’re tired or an exam is coming up and you wish you’re somewhere else. Those moments are crucial. If you don’t have the mentality that you need to be at work because of the long-term goal you’re on your way to achieve, you’ll start slacking and looking for a reason to skip work.
It’s important to know what you will be dealing with before putting yourself into it. My mom always tells me, “It’s all in the head. What you head says, your body follows.” If you have a goal and already make up your mind on achieving it, you’ll make it through any obstacle. At the end of the day, you are what you believe you are.
Have a daily To-Do List.
It is important to be organized, but what else can you organize if you already have both of your class and work schedules? A daily To-Do List!
Let me tell you the magic of a daily To-Do List. If you ever been in the situation where you have so many things to do you didn’t know where to start, this is where a daily To-Do List comes in handy. A daily To-Do List is like brainstorming, but more organized. When writing down your list, you will be able to see all of the things you need to do and that will make it easier for you to prioritize what most needs to be done.
Another thing you need to know about a daily To-Do List, it doesn’t just help you to be organized, but it also gives you motivation. The act of writing it down itself makes you feel responsible to get it done. You don’t have to write down big things, just what needs to be done, such as assignments, projects, errands, etc. If you have a long list, you’ll be rushing to get it done. Without notice, you’ll concentrate more and do things even faster than how you normally do. Ask my friends and teachers if you don’t believe me. The days when I am being the most organized, productive and effective, that would be when I am following my To-Do List.
Two main reasons why I cannot go a day without a daily To-Do List:
A) I feel accomplished for getting things done.
B) I wake up everyday with purpose
Don’t be afraid to ask your teacher for help.
Seeking help from your teachers doesn’t necessarily mean asking for an extension for your assignment or project. Never use your part-time job as an excuse for anything and don’t try to take any advantage from your teachers.
Even if asking your teachers for help sounds like the most horrible idea, they are here to help you succeed. If you have any question regarding your assignment, project or test, or simply just advice, they will definitely be more than happy to help. In exchange, show them that you are not in school because someone forces you to be there. Show them that you actually care about your education and career. Most teachers usually prefer you to schedule an appointment in advance instead of showing up and blabbering about your endless problems.
Social life is just as important.
Once in a while, you owe yourself a break and enjoy a night outside school and the office. Many people don’t realize it but our social life is our social support and it is one of the most important influences on our mental health. It is the key of survival. In other words, our relationship with others is what helps us to get through tough days.
If you spend too much time hanging out with your party buddies, hanging out can be a waste of both time and money. But if you do it right, not only your social life can help you relieve stress, but also those social lives can turn into lifelong connections that will be very useful in the future.
Stay positive means stay focused
I mentioned earlier that college years are a trial before stepping into the real world. By that, I also mean this will be one of the toughest, hardest, most complicated times of your life. These years are made to make or break you. All you have to do is survive.
Being positive is important in surviving, especially when facing tough times. I believe everyone has their own way to stay on top of themselves even though many things, even people are trying to destroy them, but I like to share with you my survival kits that got me through my three years of college:
There will come a time when you feel like skipping school and running away, don’t. There will be those days where you want to give up and go home, don’t. You might not see it right now, but when it’s all done you’ll be glad you didn’t back out.
For those who are reading my tips, good luck with your college years! Whether you’re taking a diploma, bachelor or post-graduate program, I hope my three years of college experience can help you get the best of yours.