Size-Up Your School
Learning to be an independent, hardworking adult is hard enough, but doing it on a school campus the size of Neptune is even worse.
By Payton Ramey, University of Central Florida
They say high school is a free trial of education, and then you have to pay thousands if you wish to continue. Well, that’s a lie because college is the real trial.
Whether you’re going to class, finding an internship or trying to establish a work-life balance, university is the ultimate time to transition from baby-faced child to real-life adult. Everything you do during your time in college has a greater purpose, and while it may seem elementary to compare your days of parties, friends and all-nighters to being a hard-working, bill-paying adult, everyone’s got to start somewhere.
1. Marathon-Walking to Class
When your school is the size of a planet, walking to class feels like a hike through the desert. You have to carry a water bottle (and an extra emergency water bottle) just to make sure you don’t die during the trek to any and all classes.
Thinking of doing your hair? Don’t bother. Each class takes at least 20 minutes to get to, and by the time you arrive, you look like you fought an entire army just to find out your lecturer isn’t going to show up.
It may sound corny, but walking miles across campus to get to class has turned my life around. Though I’ve never been the type to be late for any sort of occasion, having to plan out my entire day just to make sure that I have enough time to walk has amped up my organization skills to a new level. And everyone has noticed (hello, promotion).
2. Construction, Construction, Construction
Large universities have a constant flow of money coming in, and with money comes continuous spending on unnecessary shit (my school is building a lazy river with my tuition money). So, construction is everywhere, and to makes things even better, the construction will always be in the most inconvenient places.
You’ll never get a warning and since all your usual shortcuts and secret passageways to class are cut off, you’re going to be late no matter where you go. In the real world, things rarely go according to plan, but taking time to make sure you have an exit strategy will make life much easier.
When I first arrived on campus, I was told that my school acronym basically stood for “under construction forever” and boy, was that true. I constantly have to find new ways to get anywhere and everywhere on campus, while still maintaining an organized time schedule. Again, thanks college, my organization game is now through the roof.
3. A Whole New World
It’s inevitable. At some point in time, you’re going to be forced to play hide and seek with a building on campus that you’ve never seen before. It happens too many times to count, “I’ll meet you at [insert building name that you didn’t know existed].”
Whether you’re attending lectures, joining a new club or meeting up with friends for a study session, these events are usually held in places that you’ve never set foot in. Discovering new buildings on a large campus is hell for every student and no matter how many years you’ve had to endure it, you’ll never learn where everything is located.
Attending the second largest college campus in the nation comes with some anxiety-inducing situations. I constantly find myself having to ask for directions and communicate with other humans (shudder) despite being a complete introvert. Though, being forced into these situations has allowed me to make some really great connections that I otherwise would never have found.
Stepping out of your comfort zone can lead to great things. You get to find amazing jobs and internships, meet new people and may even bump up your confidence enough to go shopping for a car alone!
4. Massive Lectures
It’s common knowledge that any prerequisite classes you take will be massive, but attending a large college also ensures that a lot of your major-specific classes will be just as huge. In the first few weeks, there is absolutely no way you will be able to find a seat in the lecture hall, filled with thousands of other busybodies.
You’ll most likely have to watch the live-streamed version of the class instead of actually attending, and that can honestly be the worse if you’re not an immaculately organized individual.
As a business student, a lot of my classes are categorized as “lecture capture” courses, which means students have the option to either attend the scheduled lecture time or watch recordings online. With over 1,000 students enrolled in a classroom holding only 300 seats, it’s easy to feel lost.
Like regular online courses, you have to be on top of your game in order to ace them. And although these classes aren’t quite as pleasant to take as traditional university courses, they have helped me maintain a sense of independence and structure at a university as large as mine.
5. Fighting for Your Classes
Regardless of your year, registering for classes can be absolutely brutal and when you have to start looking for those itty-bitty classes required for graduation, it becomes even worse. Odds are, you’re going to be registering for classes online and in order to do that, you have to be sitting at your computer the second registration opens because classes disappear faster than “Right Said Fred’s” music career.
When you inevitably don’t get into the class you need, you’re going to have to push back all your plans another semester, and who wants that? Though I’m not graduating yet, I have had the unfortunate luck of missing out on classes that I really needed to take because my computer just wasn’t fast enough. I’ve had to rearrange my entire schedule, so I would still meet requirements for scholarships and grants because I didn’t sign up for one damn class early enough.
While it sucks, going through the soul-sucking adventure of trying to fill my schedule with worthy classes actually turned out to be helpful. Whether I’m planning meetings with organizations, setting up appointments to take exams or looking for jobs to apply to, I always have a back-up plan (and a back-up back-up plan) in case something goes wrong.
Whether you’re attending a small or large university, college is the time to focus on gaining new skills and becoming the best version of yourself. And of course, doing all this in between festivals, pool parties and nights out with friends doesn’t hurt. Remember that everything you learn while in college is important because when graduation rolls around, you don’t want to be the person moving into your parents’ basement.