As your college experience continues, so does your learning inside and outside of the classroom. Being a fifth year student at Rochester Institute of Technology, I have learned plenty of things that have sculpted my personal and professional life.

Self-discipline is important.

When it comes to college, your ability to discipline yourself will make or break your experience. Typically when people hear the words “self-discipline”, they immediately think about getting yourself to consistently exercise. While working out does require a lot of self-discipline, this isn’t just what I’m talking about! Self discipline plays a role in your everyday life as a college student. From setting time aside during the day, to completing assignments, to getting yourself to class, it’s important to not let yourself slip, or you will fall behind. What I’ve found works best is to get in a schedule and think of some goals to hold as standards. For example, tell yourself you cannot hang out with your friends until your homework assignment is completed. By creating a simple reward system you can easily stick to your plan and it will become second nature!

Finding a balance is not that easy.

I thought that finding balance between work, school, and a social life was extremely easy my freshman year. This had much to do with the fact that my classes were not difficult yet, and all of my friends lived in the rooms next to mine in the residence halls! As you get older in college, there is no doubt that your classes will be more challenging, and your friends will move to different areas on and off campus. While our number one priority is to get an education here at Rochester Institute of Technology, setting time aside from school and work for friends is extremely important and will prevent you from burning out.

How to save co-op money.

Having completed two co-ops and two internships, I have learned the importance of saving money that I’ve earned. Unlike most universities, RIT allows for us to take chunks of time off from classes to gain a relevant, real world experience. During my first co-op, I was so excited to get a consistent paycheck for an extended period of time, and then I blew through all of it. Although it felt great in the moment, I soon realized that I could have been saving that money to put towards my student loans or saving for a spring break trip. I’d definitely say that it took me a couple of co-ops to realize this, and I wish I would have sooner!

How to say no to certain opportunities.

Throughout my college experience, I have been presented with countless opportunities in a wide array of areas. From clubs and organizations, to internship opportunities, to Greek life, the list never ends. I remember during my freshman year that I wanted to meet as many people as possible, so I said yes to every single opportunity that came my way. Within a matter of weeks, I realized that I had taken on way too much, and my schedule became so packed that I couldn’t fully enjoy what I was involved in. My best advice is to find a couple things that you are interested in and passionate about, and try to stick with them as long as you can. Quality is better than quantity in this case, and it is okay to say no sometimes!

How to manifest what I want.

What many students don’t realize is that you will get what you put into your experience while in college. If you consistently have a negative mindset because of the amount of work you have to do, the exam you have to study for, or the professor you don’t like, you will not enjoy what you are learning! While it’s human to have down days, don’t let your negative emotions take over your college experience. If you start every day with a healthy mindset, you will not only build resiliency, you will manifest positivity into your life!

Sleep actually is necessary.

Contrary to popular belief that college students don’t need sleep, that is not the case. While I have completed one too many all nighters throughout my past five years here at RIT, it is definitely not something I’d recommend. Pacing your workload out is key, so you don’t find yourself dragging during the day to a lack of zzz’s. 

Putting yourself into uncomfortable situations helps you grow.

This is something that definitely took me a few years to fully comprehend, but I now stand by 100%. Think about your life, and the points in time that you grew the most personally. They were probably times in which you were put into an unfamiliar and uncomfortable situation that forced you to grow and develop. Regardless if you fail, putting yourself into uncomfortable situations will allow for you to grow. College is the perfect time to put yourself out there, and not be afraid of what may happen. Either way, it will be a learning experience.

As you continue your college experiences here at RIT, it is important to remember that you aren’t just here for the piece of paper you get while walking across the stage. College is the time for you to make mistakes, grow, and manifest the future life you hope to have for yourself.

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