Tuesday, October 4, 2011

8 College Challenges with Big Benefits

There's a lot to be learned in college. There's lots of fun, friends, and good memories to be had. And there are some things about college that are not so great. There will be frustration, awkwardness, and sometimes feeling like "why am I here?!"

So in honor of the college experience as a whole, I present you with "8 College Challenges with Big Benefits"!

1. College Food

The Challenge: Everyone has heard of not-so-great college food and the freshman 15, so this one is pretty self explanatory. I remember long ago (almost a month and a half), when I first came to college, I was pretty pumped about the cafeteria. No cooking, no cleaning, minimal thinking; just eating. What could be better? But I quickly learned that grilled cheese, pizza and french fries get old pretty quickly, and I began to miss the privilege of being able to cook my own food (no kitchen in my dorm, tight on funds; the usual).

The Benefit: This is kind of a sink or swim situation. After a while, you'll learn to make better choices in the cafeteria (they do have salads, soups and veggies, and there can be decent, balanced hot options as well), or you'll succumb to the less-balanced, not-so-healthy options all the time. To be fair, I'm still finding my balance in this area. I do occasionally indulge in a plate of fries. But the point is that there is a lot to be learned about making good choices and eating right!

2. Room Mates

The Challenge: Not everyone gets to have their own room growing up, but from the age of 13-now, I've been so fortunate. Even while living in Poland I had my own room in each of my host families. That's why for a lot of people, having a room mate can be tough. After all, you just met them, you know nothing or very little about them, and they may have very different sleep and living patterns (I go to sleep late, get up late; my room mate is the opposite). I've been pretty lucky with my roomie situation, but others don't have such luck.

The Benefit: Again, I think that a lot of people could see the benefit in this situation. Living with someone who may be very different from yourself helps you to learn how to deal with/work with other people, how to manage conflicts, and may not even be a bad thing. There are two girls on my floor who are room mates and best friends. Also, if you feel like there's absolutely no way you can live with another person, I'm pretty sure every college offers singles (SMC does!!!)

3. Laundry Rooms

The Challenge: There are like 8 washers for a building of hundreds. Some people feel the need to leave their stuff in the dryers because they're too lazy/forget to come get their stuff. There are many reasons why college laundromats aren't ideal.

The Benefit: For those who don't already know, learning to do laundry is an invaluable life lesson. Also, having to plan out when to do laundry, how long it will take, and the most cost-effective and time-efficient ways of doing it are all good ways to learn time and money management.

4. College Bathrooms

The Challenge: They can get pretty disgusting. There was a period of time during which no guy on my floor would dare approach the fourth toilet stall. Also, in an effort (which I think is pretty cool) to reduce our carbon footprint, SMC doesn't have paper towels or soap in the dorm bathrooms (although most R.A.'s have put little bottles of hand sanitizer/soap in there our of pure kindness). But the lack of paper towels can be annoying, despite its environmental consciousness. And another thing; you never know when the other people on your floor are going to be showering. So grunge days will happen.

The Benefit: This one is mostly character-building. You wont soon take for granted the shower you have at home. Also, more time management, because you can figure out the times of day when least people tend to shower and take advantage of that.

5. Online Programs and Stuff

The Challenge: When I first got here and was told that I would have homework assignments to turn in via ecollege, that I was expected to check my email daily, and then got 9,000 emails a day from the college, I got kinda overwhelmed. It turned out not to be as bad as I thought it would be, but there were definitely some stressful nights of trying to figure out where online I could find my French listening homework.

The Benefit: Dealing with stuff that isn't totally straight-forward helps you learn more and think outside the box. It helps you to be more aware of all the stuff you have to do, because you'll be penalized if you forget an assignment that was due online if you try to hand it in in person. Don't get me wrong, probably most Professors would be chill if you hand in an assignment in person rather than online once or twice, but they have the online programs for a reason, and they expect you to use them.

6. Keeping Track of Your Own Appointments

The Challenge: You'll have to make your own appointments, fill out your own paperwork, remember those appointments, get yourself there, and make sure that these appointments don't conflict with your other activities.

The Benefit: Learning how to do all this helps you to become an adult, and also makes you more aware of how much money you have, how long it takes to do certain things, and overall gives you a greater appreciation for some things that you took for granted in high school. In the words of my friend Tarah, "You might never get a secretary like your mother in this economy."

7. Realizing that You are Poorer than You Thought

The Challenge: Your friends want to get Chinese food. You check your wallet; no money. Your checking account; not enough to withdraw funds. You don't get to buy any food, so you watch as your friends munch on fried rice and egg rolls while you drink tap water. It's already happened to me that I've spent a lot and caught myself low on funds, having to ask my dad for more WAY too soon. It's not fun, and it makes you feel bad.

The Benefit: You learn how to manage your money, and this can be a source of inspiration to work hard and earn cash so that you never again have to miss out on late-night take-out or dining in town.

8. It's All Up to You

The Challenge: There's a lot of temptation in college. People drink, people smoke, people try drugs. And while I'm not advocating the use of alcohol, tobacco or drugs; the fact is that people use and try these things, and it's up to you to decide whether or not you will. On top of that, you have grades to maintain, athletes have to train and stay in good physical shape, and people involved in school clubs, theater, campus ministry or anything like this have to meet certain expectations to remain involved. My sister has said that college is a sink-or-swim situation, you can work hard, try new things, and learn to manage your time; or you can do the bare minimum and get out with the lowest requirements met (or fail).

The Benefit: You will learn the things that you like to do, as well as the things that you can and cannot do. You can have a lot of success and once-in-a-lifetime opportunities, and there are tons of obvious reasons why doing well in college is a good thing (good jobs, grad school, years of experience and knowledge that no one can take away, liberal arts-induced naivete).

So there they are, 8 ways in which dealing with the tough stuff will make you stronger! Any comments/suggestions/questions can be directed to my email (brosbrook@mail.smcvt.edu), also I'm on facebook, formspring and twitter!

Thanks for reading!

No comments:

Post a Comment