I have spent the last six years at Kansas State University. Before the shock of the time length sets in, I want to clarify that I graduated with double majors and double minors in May 2016 and began my first year of graduate school in August 2016. I have now completed my sixth year at K-State with one more left before I graduate again and move on with my academic career.
In my time here, I have learned some things, had many great experiences and made countless friends. Here is a list of suggestions and pieces of advice I can offer as a student with some seniority and experience.
1. Explore K-State
K-State is such a beautiful campus. Something I would recommend all students do is explore this campus. Explore the campus in a way that allows you to wander without worrying about getting lost. There are students I went to undergrad with who still do not know where all of the departments are located or where buildings are. Intentionally find the buildings you have classes in, but also find other buildings and figure out what departments are within them. We spend so much time in the buildings our academic programs are housed in that we forget there is a whole other campus we are a part of. Take the time to intentionally go in a building you have never entered or bring a friend to visit their academic department. You never know what you might find.
2. Explore Manhattan
Manhattan is small enough to be considered a town, but large enough to have most of what you want and/or need. Manhattan has so many incredible opportunities, events and destinations. I would highly recommend everyone intentionally engage in some of the things that make Manhattan so unique. Some of these things include visiting Manhattan Hill, hiking the Konza Prairie, seeing a show at the Manhattan Arts Center, visiting the Sunset Zoo, walking up and down downtown, grabbing a bite to eat or a drink in the Aggieville Business District, seeing a game at Bill Snyder Family Stadium and/or Bramlage Coliseum and visiting one of the many historic landmarks within the city. Manhattan has more to offer than I could possibly describe in one paragraph. But it does have a little something for everyone.
3. Take advantage of free/reduced price opportunities
One of the nicest things about living in a college town is there are countless opportunities for free or reduced prices for students. In college, you may not have a lot of money. Even if you have money, it is still nice not to always have to pay full price. There is a lot offered both in Manhattan and on campus that has a free or reduced price if you are a student. Find those places; take advantage.
4. Find your passions
College is one of the best opportunities to find things you are passionate about. If you are passionate about engineering or architecture or art or construction or grain sciences or agriculture or writing or really anything, college is the best place to explore that passion. Take a class in something you find interesting. Join a student organization that specifically focuses on your passion. If you are able to find what you are passionate about, you are more likely to stick with it. You will also experience higher levels of overall happiness. Do not be a part of something or get a degree in something just because “it makes money” or it is “what your family told you to do.” Find academic disciplines that align with what you are passionate about; it will pay off more in the long run.
5. Understand the importance of self-care
Self-care was one of the few things that took me until the end of my undergraduate career to understand. This piece of advice is to emphasize and understand the importance of putting yourself first in some instances. We all need to take breaks where we intentionally focus on ourselves and things we enjoy doing for ourselves. We cannot all go at 100 percent every second of every day. That is how individuals get burnt out and fast.
I can say this from personal experience. I overexerted myself during my first few years of college. I was overextended, underappreciated and did not take care of myself. I was constantly stressed, sick and tired. Self-care allows you to intentionally take time that removes you from the things causing you stress in a way that also allows you to recharge and regroup. Self-care is important. Remember to practice self-care often and intentionally.
6. Thrive, do not just survive
There are countless days in college when I have claimed a victory for my day was waking up and getting out of bed. I was simply surviving the day-to-day grind. I was not improving myself or working toward my future. I was just going through the motions.
If and/or when you feel this feeling set in, remember to thrive, not just survive. Find a way to break up the normalcy of your schedule and/or life. Practice self-care. Check on your mental health and seek help if necessary. There are times when surviving is our only option of persevering through college. But survival should not be anyone’s default. We should always try to be our best selves through thriving in this world.
Jakki Forester is a graduate student in communication studies. The views and opinions expressed in this column are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of the Collegian. Please send comments to firstname.lastname@example.org.