1. INTRO: good kid, m.A.A.d Different Environment:
Welcome to The Demo Tape’s First Year of College Guide 2017, hosted by your wifey’s favorite DJ, DJ Valentino! I’m just trying to put you on some poetic justice instead of tryna kill your vibe. If you’re tuned in right now, then congrats, big fella! You’ve been accepted to a college or university and are about to embark on a life changing journey. Whether you come from Compton, Philly, the DMV, the South or internationally, right now you’re going to get The Recipe to a successful first year. As much as possible, I’ll cover some of the big essentials for prospering on the first year to your degree, sampling a mixture of your favorite tunes. Lehgo.
2. Say It (Your Goals):
You’re gonna have to do more than just say it. You tell your friends, your family, the teacher who told you that you were never gonna be ish, your Snapchat story, and your timeline about the new journey you are about to embark on and how victory is yours for the taking. You can’t just post and not put in the work, big fella. One thing that helps the pros is putting pen to paper, marker to dry hanging dry erase board, pen to post-it, etc. Say all the small goals, big goals, weekly goals and monthly goals you are going to do and accomplish (it’s not weird to repeat them aloud to yourself) and begin recording them through whatever varied platforms you wish. Whether it be to get a 4.0 GPA, joining a certain organization, dedicating a certain amount of hours per week to an essay due in 3 weeks, honing a professional or social skill you never got the chance to in high school, or whatever else your heart desires.
The point here is to get organized, be realistic with yourself about time management, and remind your own self through cell phone reminders or posters on your wall about the reasons you entered college. Not only is this organization highly practical for everything you will be involved in from school work to organizations, but you will be able to be your own source of motivation and reminder of why you’re grinding day and night.
3. The Weekend:
Some people like their 9-5, others like the weekend. You’ll hear a lot about time management in college, which is one of the secrets to succeeding. You have the same number of hours as everyone else, with the same access to materials and facilities to ensure your academic success and personal success. The key to success is just getting organized with everything by budgeting your time as well as you budget your finances.
Not to sound daunting, but every time you think you have free time in college, you technically don’t most of the time. There’s always something to study, an event to go to, some part of your health to maintain, a meeting to attend, or a skill to master. One of the most important things I have heard in my life that someone told me is that: “People make time for what they WANT to make time for.” This applies to time management, making the effort to see someone instead of someone else, recreational time with friends and events, study time, etc. You truly make time for what you WANT to make time for. In college, this applies as well. Get a planner, use your Google Calendar or similar application in your phone frequently for reminders, remind yourself with post-its in your room or whatever you do to keep yourself on track. As an adult, no one is going to get you in check like you. Do what you have to do so that when the horizon approaches for things to be due, you make sure you don’t lose your mind every weekend.
4. Bounce Back (The Journey to Academic Excellence):
“L’s” could stand for losses or lessons, depending on your perspective. You’ll see what I mean when you receive that first depressing grade for that essay you thought you did bomb on, the test you studied all week for, or the essay you failed and the test you failed because you know you did not prep like you should have. That’s life, big fella. Academic success, what should be everyone’s primary goal in college, is indeed a treacherous journey. Thankfully, we got y’all covered.
It’s easy to take an L for last night and bounce back. First, as soon as you figure out (not at the very end big fella) that you are not doing well in a class, make time in your schedule to repeatedly receive private help from your professor of your course in your office. Not only does this build a relationship with them for future asks such as recommendation letters, but it shows the professor you are trying to save your grade, and they’ll even sway your grade in the more positive direction for your simple effort.
As Big Sean said, “From time to time you gotta MAKE time when it’s time for karma to come back around.” As common as last minute crunching for assignments and studying is in college, it’s a deplorable practice. Nothing changes, if nothing changes. If you see you are beginning to suffer in a class, you should make the effort to begin studying and doing essays and other assignments as soon as you get them, or weeks ahead of time. This way, when it’s time to submit assignments or you need cushion time to edit papers and perform other obligations, you’re already ahead of your own curve.
Create or search for free study guides via Quizlet and other online platforms for your classes. Also, get the contacts of individuals in your class you can rock with and commit to studying with before tests and quizzes.
5. Dreams and Nightmares:
You used to pray for times like this to shine like that, right? Well don’t spend the blessings sleeping through all of your classes and being sleep deprived many days throughout the year. There is this fake-deep notion that those who do not get sleep are the hardest working individuals. While it may be true that the more hours you put into something directly affect your success in that endeavor, you are still flesh and blood. If you do not get your proper rest throughout college, you’ll be more irritable, you’ll have less energy throughout the days, and your body will start to punish you in more ways than one for the self-abuse of not giving yourself your proper rest. It would benefit you to finish your work early or in chunks so that you can get your proper sleep.
It would also benefit you, as kindergarten as it sounds, to take small naps when you have free time in your schedule to make up for lost hours. I used to stay awake all through my 50-minute classes for years. However, classes that lasted an hour and a half or more would almost always make me drowsy and unfocused in class, even if I got 6-8 hours. One day, before one of my longer classes, I decided to take a nap in my room and set an alarm. Twenty minutes made an entire difference that day, as I was more attentive in my longer classes than ever. The semesters I applied this, I received 4.0 GPAs. When I would be traveling around campus and couldn’t make it to my room, as odd as this sounds, I would find other college students sprawled in certain spaces on campus with comfortable couches, napping and taking my same initiative. Small naps are the wave.
Things get exponentially more time consuming in college, so it is best to get your rest now before it becomes really difficult to do so with all the responsibilities you have. Health is wealth, and good sleep correlates to good health. Dreams can unfold, or nightmares can come true depending on your proper rest.
6. Sunday Morning:
That may be all you need. As discussed before, weekends are essential time, but there’s sacredness to Sunday you should take advantage of always because things just get so crazy and this life gets hard to do. The peaceful campus, church, the environment outside the city, ample time to catch up on assignments, and ample time to emphasis self-care after a long week. Act accordingly.
7. Good Life:
A bad day doesn’t equate to a bad life. College will get hard and depressing at (many) times. Self-care is paramount in college. No matter what you do, make sure you take time to do the things that habitually make you happy such as dancing to your playlist, doing your makeup, playing video games or whatever non-harmful recreational activity that gives you your fix. All in moderation of course.
Praying, mediating, or anything spiritual (if you are interested) on a regular basis in college can help you maintain a good attitude as well.
Do not be afraid to use the counseling services at your school. Sometimes friends and family cannot help you with your problems like a professional can. It’s no shame in it really, especially when they are created to help you and cost $Free.99. If you’re mental health is straight in college, I am sure you will be able to say like Kanye and T-Pain, “I’M GOOOOOD!” and mean it.
8. Moment 4 Life:
In your Freshman year, never be “too cool” to try new things or be involved in campus life. Undergrad is an experience in itself, and the time from you entering college to graduating go quicker than you’d think. There are many different groups and organizations you can grow and build your resume with. There are some fun on-campus soirees with good music, games, and free food where you can go to relax to meet other kindred spirits like yourself. Homecoming and other special events thrown by student life feature celebrities and very important persons that are a joy to be around, and can change your life if you get their contact information. The networking experiences and options for entertainment are endless. Make this a moment for life your Freshman year; it is the only undergraduate Freshman year you will have.
College will expose you to many different groups of people from all walks of life. The middle-class, the rich folk, the activists, the rappers, the artists, the entrepreneurs, the make-up artists, the anime/manga/comic book nerds and so much more.
You have heard the phrase that the friends you make in college will be your friends for life; this statement holds a lot of validity. Even as friends and differing agendas will most likely fall by the wayside as time goes on, attempt to make friends and expand your network as much as possible. You never know when you might need someone or assistance for when you are in need.
Also, it’s better to have a team. Gather your ambitions with your crew as you set out to make a legacy for yourself and community by starting a business or collective. Have people to joke with when you go to the cafeteria for dinner. Have a squad to back you up as you hit the party scene in your spare time so you can not only be safe if things pop off, but have backup as you try and pull someone you like. You’ll need a friend when falling grades, family drama back home, a lost relationship and other tragedies of life hit you hard.
Shine with your new crew. Soon everyone will see money all around you, acting like you’re the man.
10. Crush On You:
College will have you worried about someone who has a different girl/boy every day of the week. Don’t be in your feelings.
College can be like a candy store in terms of eye candy. The amount of attractive people on an available basis and in your face that match your interests and preferences are on much more abundance and a higher echelon of interest than your high school crushes. You have to govern yourself accordingly to not get overzealous.
It’s fine to experiment and date, explore your sexuality, become romantically involved with someone or even experience your first situationship (God forbid). But, with everything available to you, you should remember why you are there in the first place: to get your degree. Do you not become so entrenched in the allure that you falter in your study habits, time management, and personal goals for yourself. Make the effort to make sure the crush does not crush you and that you spend more time crushing all of your goals.
People actually do get sick and tired of the photoshop. It’s fine to be boastful and proud of one’s self in college, but one shouldn’t excessively stunt in college. There is a definite fine line between arrogance and confidence. Wisdom is recognizing that you indeed have more areas to grow in, no matter how esoteric and magnificent you become. When you enter college, you will meet the most excellent and highly motivated individuals you will ever meet in this lifetime. You may be amazing at the things you do, but recognize you cannot do it all, and that there are an abundance of people in your space who can not only do the things you can, but sometimes better, in accordance with doing the things that you cannot. In your journey to success as a Freshman, be humble.
12. Money Trees:
If only money grew on trees…but it doesn’t. The prices stack up in college quicker than The Flash on a double shot expresso. Food, hygiene management, hair care, books for your classes, basic classroom necessities, transportation, and so much more sneak up on you and your unsuspecting wallet. If you are blessed enough to get a refund check from your institution, do not blow it quickly (especially on food). Even if you receive a rebate check or not, it’s beneficial to comprise a budget for a weekly to monthly basis. If you stick to your budget religiously, and put part of your income into your savings bit by bit whenever you get the chance, you may find yourself not living lavishly, but relatively financially stable to not go under.
If time allows, start creating your own money trees. This means to plant the seeds of you talent and skill set and let them make money for you. If you are a hairstylist, writer, makeup artist, good tutor, have a car, produce music, do brand management or have any type of skill, you can turn that into a side hustle on your spare time.
Sometimes your school offers work-study, an agreement in which you work part-time assisting the administrations on campus for profit. Check to see your eligibility if that option is feasible. Lastly, keep applying for more scholarships just to be safe. Life can occur and you could lose your scholarship, or you might want more money in your refund check next semester.
13. Good Drank(Alcohol + U):
You can’t blame it on the goose if it’s got you feeling loose. You knew what this was. College is a big deal because you’ll be exposed, more often than not, to adult settings with lots of alcohol available. You may or may not have been exposed to large quantities of alcohol before in social settings prior to college, and if you haven’t, well good luck.
It’s going to be in your face many times and the temptation to begin drinking, even while underage, is a very common reality for Freshmen. You’re going to want to find out your limit first, before you go into major social settings, so that you’re not a super flirty, super aggressive, and/or super whilin’ drunkard at events your friends will have to clean up after, as pictures of you end up all over social media. Test yourself beforehand so that you never go over the edge. Also, make sure that you eat something before drinking. Not doing so is more liable to get you drunk.
As social as drinking is, do not try to be the Freshmen who gets fined big time and/or kicked out for trying to hide alcohol in your dorm. It’s not worth it, especially if you have upperclassmen friends and there are places off campus where you can buy some.
Whenever you are drinking with other individuals, it’s best to never leave your drink unattended. People are trash and predatory, even when it serves them better to not be (go figure). Keep it near you, and if you leave it for a second, it’s not too bad and boujee to get an entirely different cup. Safety first.
Drunk and feeling like you’re about to hit the hay? Watch it, big fellah. Issa trap. Depending on how much you drank, you can wake up with a hangover, a dreadful feeling of dehydration that impairs your functionality and makes you feel like the sorriest sack of potatoes in the world when you awake. Personally, always after I drink, no matter how tipsy or drunk I may get, I make sure to drink lots and lots of water to hydrate my body. When I follow this, I don’t wake up feeling awful and when I ignore this rule, then I’m screwed in a personal cesspool of pain and suffering the next day.
In a professional setting where alcohol is being served such as gala, fundraiser or dinner, ALWAYS be conservative with how much you sip. At those venues, alcohol is more so for the social feeling of it all and the aesthetic, so act accordingly.
14. The New Workout Plan:
That’s right, go to work, drop that Freshman 15 like you deserve.
In college, most of the time, your institution has an on-campus exercise facility with equipment and all the exercise tools you could ever need. Take advantage, big fellah. You can get that body you always wanted and stay healthy more than ever with such a resource available. Look up plausible and manageable exercise regiments on the internet or ask some associates who do it on the regular. In addition to academic excellence, you achieve health excellence as well.
Are you ready, for your blessing? Are you ready, for your miracle? You are about to embark on a spectacular journey with your wonderful skill set and ambition to accomplish your dreams in life. You are the result of your ancestors’ prayers in all of your wonderful glory. You is kind, you is smart, and you is important.
I hope you enjoyed these tips and if you follow them and the lessons from the experiences you learn across the way, victory will be yours. Feel free to message me for any more additional questions, I ran a foundation in Atlanta that helped Freshmen of every entering year achieve 4.0 GPAs all across the board, great business acumen skills, good credit, scholarships, fellowships, study abroad opportunities, and more.