I've said before that every stage of your life requires a different and better version of yourself. For me, this doesn't mean that I came to college and started acting like a totally different person, I'm just in a space that grows me into a better version of who I already am. Don't be that person that puts on a performance for your college peers because it's going to be a really awkward day if and when that gets exposed. *sips tea*
You have complete control over who can have access to you and when. For me, I'm just not built to be around people all day every day, so I purposely spent a lot of time during the day by myself so that I could be more productive and then I'd spend the evening with my friends. I know at Howard, it's very easy to think that you'll be missing out if you aren't at every party or turn up on the yard but I promise you won't if you're instead spending that time doing what you're supposed to do and getting ahead.
I think one thing that could have had a more positive impact on my performance this year is having a set daily routine. My Monday/Wednesday/Friday classes didn't start at the same time as my Tuesday/Thursday classes so I never had consistent start to my day. I tried (emphasis on tried) to wake up at the same time every day for a little while and I found that I had time to work out, eat breakfast, and ease into my day as opposed to waking up and having to go straight to class.
Something that I realized has an even bigger impact on my performance is my mental and emotional health. When I feel motivated to go to class, spend extra time studying, etc. I can do so with no problem. Since I'm in college now and have more of a choice of whether I go to class or not, when I wasn't as motivated it was so easy for me to just not go which obviously didn't help me at the end of the day. I think that simply making sure I'm doing things every day to consistently stay motivated about my studies and generally in good spirits would've made a huge difference. Thinking that you'll always be motivated, though, is unrealistic and that's just a part of being human; but don't allow yourself to stay in that mindset to the point where it affects your grades.
I overestimated what items I would need for my dorm and I ended up with a lot of clutter in my room that easily could've been avoided. Don't be like me and look at things you haven't used or worn in months and say "Oh I'll probably need that at some point" because I'll let you know now... you won't. If anything, invest in more basics that you can mix-and-match instead of statement pieces that you'll have to re-wear, as well as weather-appropriate clothing items for your school's location. Also bring daily things you'll need like tupperware, utensils, cleaning supplies, etc. (it may seem like common sense but that was something I definitely overlooked).
A big mistake that I made coming into college was trying to get involved with orgs way too soon. In 'An Honest Reflection on My First Semester in College' I talked about how at Howard, I felt like I always had to be super busy with orgs and side hustles because that's a huge part of Howard's culture. However, I messed up by not taking the time to sit down and figure out what it was that I really wanted to give my time and energy to, or even what activities I would just like doing. Because of this, I ended up feeling overwhelmed at times and like I was stuck doing things I didn't enjoy at the end of the day. Looking back, by just naturally doing what I enjoy, opportunities came and I was able to make a more informed decision about if it was best for me and if it would bring me closer to my goals.
I was actually just cleaning out my desk and found a bank statement that showed how much I spent in one month and I was actually disgusted. With that said, watch how much you spend on a daily, weekly, and monthly basis. I'm grateful for my parents because I was able to enjoy real food every so often and do fun things in the city but I really did spend too much. Have some money saved before you come to school for weekly spending and, more importantly, keep track of what you spend. If you have to make adjustments such as eating in the caf instead of eating out and taking public transportation instead of Uber or Lyft, be willing to make those adjustments so that your money lasts longer.
I think the best thing about this year was that I learned so much about what does and doesn't work for me in regards to everything I mentioned above. There will be times when you mess up but don't be so stuck on those failures that you waste time. If a certain method of taking notes or studying, a part of your daily routine, etc. doesn't work for you don't be afraid to pull back or start over to figure out something more effective.
College Decision Day: 11 Things to Do Now