By Joe Badalamenti
In a college full of closed dining halls. Insane final papers and nowhere to park your car, I, Joe Bigby, will help you do the impossible: survive college! [insert wacky theme song]
Now you may be asking yourself: who is Joe and why do I care about his advice? Well for one, I’m someone who’s made it through college and accomplished pretty much all of my professional goals. In other words, I know what works and what doesn’t. I’m also not one to pull punches, or refrain from unconventional advice that I know works. Now then, before I get into the guide I would like to state that there are masters and sages who have written much more about the topics I will discuss, so take this as a beginner’s guide to success. That being said, here’s my guide to surviving college…
Temper your expectations
Let’s talk about why you’re here. Some people might say that there is no right way to go through college. Those people are either liars or sophists; they are definitely cowards. No you’re not here to be a full time party goer, you’re not here to lose your virginity or rack up a body count, you’re not here to own the “LIBS” or the “CHUDS”. I wouldn’t even say that earning a degree is a great reason to be here. What you’re here to do is to get an education and grow. Why else would you spend tens of thousands of dollars to be here? But what is an education, and what does it mean to grow? This guide will explain it all.
Take the earliest classes
Starting off, you should be looking into taking the earliest classes available. Why? Because it forces you to build a solid morning routine. If you’re goofing around on TikTok and YouTube until the afternoon, you’re not gonna make it. Discipline is a vital skill and it starts with getting out of bed and getting your ass to class. It’s the people who can consistently do things that need to be done who get ahead not only in college but also out of college. Think about all those kids who used to complain about waking up at 6:30 back in high school. Do you think they’re going out of their way to take these classes? Ideally you would start your first class to start sometime between 8AM and 9:30AM. (In any case you should wake up at least 45 minutes prior to starting your first class) Afterwards, you should study, work on assignments and attend any other classes you have finishing your schoolwork sometime between 4 and 6. This will give you the opportunity not only to relax but also to participate in one of the epic clubs (of which Binghamton Review is one of the best). Fraternity is an important part of any man’s life. You should not deprive yourself of it because you’re too lazy to get out of bed before 10 AM. Of course not everyone may have the opportunity to take an early class everyday. However the important thing is to build and maintain an early morning routine. Do this and you’re already in the top 10% of students. Source? Just look around.
College is not a sprint, don’t treat it as one
At the beginning of your college classes, you might have a burst of energy and motivation to do well. You’ll be happy to study hard and ace all of your classes. Unfortunately, this high state of energy and motivation will fade over time, leading to burnout if not careful. Moreover, classes are not uniform in their difficulty. They will begin with introductory and easy lectures and build to more advanced material. Homework and reading assignments will begin to buildup as well. Hence the importance of finding a proper pace. To use a track-and-field analogy, college is not a sprint. Each semester lasts about three and a half months. So instead of using up all your energy at the beginning, it’s better to find a tough pace that you can hold for the duration of the semester. From there, you can adjust as necessary.
Don’t be the student who spends most of their time sitting in a dorm (pod) all day. College is more than just a curriculum. You will see all kinds of things there, the good and the bad, the beautiful and the ugly, the sacred and the obscene. I’ve met people who are much smarter than me, who are much more charismatic than me, and I’ve also met people who think drinking half a bottle of tequila is normal for a Wednesday evening. If you have some extra time on your hands, Explore. Explore the campus. Explore the Union Explore the former campus pub. Once you’ve explored everything, then learn. Learn from all of it. Binghamton is fortunate enough to have a very vibrant campus, so there will always be something to see. Unless you have good reason to be home, then you shouldn’t be there.
Stay in Shape
In Binghamton, Winter is coming… and it will be harsh. You will need to stay in proper shape. I could write an entire article about this topic but for now, I’ll stick with the basics. Exercise at least three days a week. Focus on both strength training (weights, and gym equipment) and cardio (running, swimming, biking). You don’t need to exercise alone, you can join one of the intramural teams or sports clubs. There’s plenty of different options so pick whichever looks interesting and worthwhile for your time. You should also develop a healthy diet. While your options available depend mainly on whether you live on or off-campus, all that I’ll say is don’t eat anything too processed and eat enough protein and carbohydrates to get through the day. Also skip breakfast if you can handle it.
Celebrate only when you have earned it
As time goes on, you should expect to achieve some minor and major victories. As these come, don’t be afraid to reward yourself for doing well. This will encourage you to keep up the effort and achieve more victories in the future. Now because this is modern-day college we’re talking about, I should mention that there is a difference between rewarding yourself and making a fool of yourself. Don’t be the one puking all over the bathrooms of C4. There will be temptations towards all sorts of dangerous activities, so be sure to avoid anything that will endanger your body or soul like the plague.
Doing well in class is the bare minimum
So you’ve paced yourself, devoted an appropriate amount of time to studies and aced all of your classes. Congratulations! You’ve done the bare minimum. The idea that you can focus on learning one special subject in college and rely on it through the rest of your life is a delusion perpetuated by boomers who lived in a society that allowed it. Even if you’re studying a profession like Engineering or Accounting, work is more than performing technical tasks. In fact technical work may be completely absent from your future entry-level job (as is the case for myself). This is not to dissuade you from doing well in class. Technical competence is the bare minimum for future success. So what else is there to learn? The biggest thing after technical skills is “people skills.” Being able to work with others to achieve results, the ability to persuade others to adopt your point of view, the ability to write pieces adapted to different audiences etc. are not only versatile but crucial for success. Moreover, these skills will be developed not only in class but also outside of class. Beyond this, I would also recommend working on any weaknesses or vices that you might have. If you smoke weed or watch pornography now would be the time to quit before you enter the real world.
The opposite sex is probably a waste of time
Don’t get me wrong, it is definitely possible to find the girl/guy of your dreams in college. However this probably won’t be the case with your lab partner or your discussion partner or especially not that person you meet past midnight downtown. It’s much more prudent to work on improving yourself and your ability to discern a good partner. Moreover don’t become anxious if you’re single, as the Bible says: “House and riches are given by parents: but a prudent wife is properly from the LORDl” (Proverbs 19:14 DR)
Always be prepared and have a backup plan
There will be times when things don’t go your way. Maybe you don’t get into that class you really wanted to take. Maybe you don’t get that position you were aiming for. Maybe a group of friends turns on you for no reason at all. Whatever the case may be, it would be wise to prepare for the worst. Make backup plans, if possible, and never put all your eggs in one basket.
My last piece of advice is to pray to God. If you don’t have any prayer habits at the moment, now is the best time to start. This advice applies to everyone, even the atheists and agnostics: “The fool hath said in his heart: There is no God” (Psalm 13:1 DR). If you don’t know how to pray, you may begin with some basic prayers such as the “Our Father”, the “Hail Mary” and “Grace” before meals. Moreover, ignore any new-agey mediation practices. This will only lead to evil. If you meditate, fill your mind with what is objectively good and reflect on that for a while. Also beware of modern psychiatry, the fruits of which are ineffective at best and outright destructive at worst. I can say a lot more about these things, but I’ll leave that for another article.