5 Things You NEED to Learn BEFORE COLLEGE

Ciao lovelies! Today I’m going to teach you five things you absolutely 100% need to learn, BEFORE you go to college. Trigger warning- I do talk about self-defense and abusive relationships. 

I started college August of 2016, at a lovely little place called Mary Baldwin University (shoutout to all my sister squirrels out there!) I felt blessed to have my step-sister there with me and a tight-knit friend group helping me through the tougher times. But even with all the help I’d received and what I thought I knew, I was still missing some crucial info. So I figured I’d put together a list of 5 things essential to know before you start college. 

College for most is the beginning of adult life. Meaning that many people must learn things through experience, and I’m not trying to rob you of that. But if you have severe anxiety/executive disfunction like me, you want to know these things ahead of time.
So enough of my spiel, let’s get you all prepped for college!

#1- How to Make a Resume
If you already had a job in high school, you probably already have a resume. But if you were like me and didn’t prep ahead of time, you’ll need to know how to make a resume, what to include on it, what not to include, how to list references, etc etc. 

I did a basic overview of resume building in this New Year’s Prep post (wow, how drastically my blogging has changed in just a few months…). However for today, I also scoured the internet for good links on how to build a resume.

Why is this good for college? Many of you will get jobs in college, either on campus or nearby. Trust me, you’ll want the extra money. Whether it’s for going out with friends, buying some takeout/delivery food, or just to stress shop, the extra money will come in handy. And if you’re good with money, you can save it (if you need some extra tips for saving it, check out our post about Saving Money In College), or put it towards tuition.

 If you decide to wait until college to create a resume most (probably all) have a office called Career Services filled with people whose sole job is to help students put a resume together. I did it this year and they were a big help. If you are ahead of the curve send your resume to them and I'm sure they will be happy to look over it for you and give pointers and fix any mistakes.

#2- How to Recognize (and recover from) a Panic Attack
Okay, even if you don’t have chronic anxiety, in college, panic attacks happen. You get overwhelmed and work keeps piling up, and suddenly, you begin to hyperventilate, shake, your heart pounds and you feel dizzy. You think you’re having a heart attack or dying, and get more panicky.

Panic attacks are a hugely chronic problem among America’s college population. In fact, more than 62 percent of students who withdrew from college with mental health problems withdrew for problems with anxiety.
So what to do about this? Well first, you need to be able to identify if you’re having a panic attack. Common panic attack symptoms are: Hyperventilating, increased heart rate, unable to catch your breath, shaking, sweating or getting chills, nausea, fear of dying, faintness, dizziness, disorientation.

The next thing you need to know is how to calm down from a panic attack. I am going to relay the ways I help myself ease out of a panic attack. Please note that this comes from personal experience and not one method works for everyone. 

Personally, I like to ground myself through a panic attack through observation. I will note the color of objects in the room, the textures, the temperatures, etc. I find this method to be effective because I have panic attacks due to both generalized anxiety disorder and PTSD, so often I don’t know what time/place I’m in. This method doesn’t work for everyone and I understand that. If you have panic attacks regularly, I suggest meeting with your therapist and asking for ways to ease out of panic attacks, arrange this meeting before college starts.

#3- Time Management
You absolutely 110% NEED to know how to manage your time before college starts. In high school, often deadlines are not only relatively short, but also are heavily stressed by instructors. In college, you’ll be lucky if your instructor even tells you that the assignment is due. Many professors simply give you a syllabus, and leave the rest up to you. How will you allot your time? Will you give yourself plenty of time or do it the night before? Not the professor’s problem, of course. Your professors are usually very intelligent, academically successful individuals who aren’t being paid to babysit but rather to pass on knowledge to future generations. 

If you’re bad with time management, fear not! I was too, like, seriously, awful. In high school I was a chronic procrastinator, simply because I could be. Not so much in college. One of the hardest parts of the transition for me was knowing that I had to learn to be good with time management or die trying. (Not literally die, but my GPA sure suffered.) Somehow even I, the serial procrastinator, managed to learn time management in less than a month. And it was all thanks to a $3 Target planner. 

Seriously, if you’re bad with time management like I was, do yourself a HUGE favor and get a planner, and USE IT. Sometimes the school you go to will give out planners, but if you find that you don’t use it because you don’t like the layout, etc etc, GET A NEW ONE. It’s crucial that you actually USE the thing. 

Learning better time management skills totally saved me come second semester. I felt more confident, and in control, and I knew when I could relax and when I needed to get stuff done.

#4- Manners
Please, for the love of GOD, make sure you have your manners in check before you go off to live in a communal space like college. And yes, college manners are slightly different than normal manners.
The main points I think you should know.

-Know the rules. Follow them. Don’t be rude to your RA’s. For example, my school has it so that if you have a male guest, you must shout “Man on Hall!” when bringing them onto a residential floor. I know this rule, and follow it every single time I have a male visitor (usually my friend or occasionally my family to help me pack for trips.) I follow the rules of my school and residence because I respect my fellow students and I know that the rules were put in place for everyone’s safety and comfort. I hope that when you go off to college, you also respect your peers and follow the rules.

-The cleaning crew are nice people. Do not leave huge messes for them. Pick up after yourself. If you’re in the lounge and you cook and get foodstuffs around, clean it up. When you go to the bathroom, FLUSH THE TOILET. Don’t leave your hair in the shower. Treat the space around you nicely. Other people use it too, and the cleaning crew doesn’t need to deal with your BS. When you see them in the halls, say hello and potentially thank you! Don’t be stuck up and act like they’re below you, because they’re not below you at all.

-Respect your hall quiet hours. You will have them. Don’t be loud. Don’t blast loud music and scream and yell at midnight, please. People around you may be trying to sleep or study. Some people have early classes. Please respect your fellow students.

-Respect your roommate. I’ve been lucky enough to have the best roomie in the world, and we both follow the roommate contract and all hall rules. But I’ve heard horror stories and even seen my poor friend experience firsthand bad roommates. If you’re having sex in college, don’t do it in the room with your sleeping roommate! My friend had this happen to him, and it was super awkward. Don’t take your roommate’s stuff without asking. Don’t use their stuff without asking. Make sure to follow the roommate contract. Don’t bring guests over unannounced. Your roommate may not want extra people in the room. Always knock before entering the room, just in case.

-Don’t be one of those people who uses Bluetooth speakers in the shower. Just don’t. People like that always irritate me because I can’t even go to pee without a headache. If you want to listen to music okay, but don’t blast it so loud it can be heard down the hall. 

-Please just treat others with respect. I have so many crazy stories of rude people, not just from my school but from others, and it drives me crazy! How can you be so rude? Like did these people’s parents not teach them manners? Please act in a way that would make your parents proud.

#5- Self-Defense
Okay, I hate to bring it back to being serious, but I need to get super serious for a moment, so bear with me. My college is relatively safe, compared to other places. But even on my safe campus, we’ve had a few incidents and I’ve become a lot less naïve. You need to know how to stay safe in college.
-Travel in groups. Minimum of two people. Seriously. It sounds childish but it’s the best way to stay safe. If you’re going in to town, bring a friend along. Walking a mere two miles from campus? Bring a friend. Always have a buddy.

-Pepper spray is good to have, if your campus allows it. Get one and attach it to your keys. Wear it everywhere. You never know when you will need to use it.

-Take some self-defense classes, preferably before college, but you can also sign up for one at your school and get some PE credits. 

-Know what abuse looks like. Many people enter their first serious relationship in college. You need to know what abuse looks like and how to escape an abusive situation if you get into one. Here are some good links to read up on before college:

If you suspect you are being abused, get out of the relationship as quickly and SAFELY as possible. Never be afraid to reach out to those around you for help. Abuse is never the victim’s fault. Please also note that you can be abused even if you are male. Don’t ignore abuse because of your gender. Please get help.

There you are, prospective up-and-coming college student. 5 things I think you need to know before you step foot on a college campus. 

To parents of children about to go to college, do you think these are things your child needs? Do you want them to know these things before college? Let me know if you think this will help your child!

To excited future college students, best of luck to you on your college journey! I hope you have a great time at college!

Thank you very much for reading!

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See you tomorrow!


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