I’ve already written an article about the turmoil you go through right after you graduate high-school and before you get into college which you can find here. Now let’s see what happens once you’ve gotten through that turmoil and are already in college. What do you do? How do you handle it? How do you study? Long story short, it’s all a matter of perspective.
Side note: The Lebanese University has an entirely different lifestyle, curriculum, organization and as a private university graduate, I have no experience in the Lebanese University or the right to give you advice related to it. To that reason, some of the things you’re going to read here might not relate to the Lebanese University.
To start things off, in one short sentence; college is absolutely nothing like high school. Yes you become independent, yes you get to choose your own courses and schedule, yes you get to pick your breaks, but believe me, it’s no walk in the park. The hard thing about college isn’t going to be passing nor studying; you are going to be that hard thing. Confused? I know. Allow me to elaborate.
When you were still at school, you had teachers caring about you, whether or not you’re progressing, you had tutors pushing you up should you ever need them. Not to mention the stress-free bus rides that are going to make sure you get to school on time and back home where lunch is ready and waiting for you. You study for a couple of hours then your brain goes numb all the way until finals. This is nothing like what you’re going to see in college.
Here are your pointers to make it through college.
How should you pick your courses?
The grading system and picking your instructors
The way most private universities function in Lebanon is as follows: there is something called a grading system. Depending on the instructor, your final grade on the course (out of 100) is divided into three to five main part: In the case of USJ and USEK for instance, attendance is 10%, homework and assignments 20%, midterm exam 30% and final exam 50%. Some instructors prefer giving two midterm exams, raising the midterm’s percentage and reducing that of the final exam. Some other instructors prefer giving quizzes as well, projects, homework. Out of experience I tell you, choose the instructor that gives you the most amount of graded work. Here’s why.
A course called the art of flirting is given by Dr. Casanova and Jabal Sheikh El Jabal.
Casanova here divided his grade as follows: 5% on attendance, 45% on the midterm and 50% on the final exam. So if you never miss a class, you already have 5/100 on your final grade. You take your midterm exam and it was kind of hard so you end up failing it. Now you need to work your heart out to ace the final exam to get a chance at passing the course. Keeping in mind that final exams are crammed into one week, so good luck studying for everything while stressing over a course you might fail.
Jabal, on the other hand, smoked a joint the night before your first day in class and decided to divide the grades as follows: 0% on attendance, you’re free to skip class. 10% on quizzes, 5% on assignments, 30% on midterm 1, 25% on midterm 2 and 30% on your final exam. At the beginning of the semester you probably don’t have that much stress, so you’ve already secured a good grade for midterm 1. You did well on that midterm because you’ve been gradually studying for it indirectly while studying for your quizzes and doing your assignments. So you’ve already secured somewhere near 10-15% while easily getting that 30% on the first midterm. Same goes for midterm 2. By the time you get to your finals, you’ve already secured at least 60/100 of the final grade. Technically, you’ve passed the course without taking the final but you have to take it and might as well study hard for it. Only difference is, you won’t be stressing over it and there’s no risk of you actually failing the course.
Bottom line - Take the course with more work, it’ll help you pass the semester stress-free.
If you’re not bound by a job that you have or any other obligations that partially or fully restrain your schedule, try to compromise that schedule at the expense of picking the instructor as explained above.
MWF/TR/TTH MWF stands for classes on Monday, Wednesday and Friday. TR/TTH stands for classes on Tuesday and Thursday. If you’re lucky enough, your schedule might fit in one of these two options. If you’re an engineering student who has no choice, I’m sorry. I’ve been there.
Picking any of these schedules is entirely up to you. If you’re okay with sitting longer hours at boring lectures to get rewarded with a 4-day weekend, go for TR/TTH. If you get bored at home and feel like you can’t be productive, you want to go to campus, socialize and make a presence, take MWF. It’s that simple.
As for the time these classes start and end, it is also entirely up to you. This is where you sit down and question yourself.
If you’re an early bird and your brain functions during the day only, you take afternoon classes that end towards the evening. That way you get the chance to wake up early, study, go to class, come home, and shut your brain off because it’s not going to work at night anyways, this is me.
If you’re a night owl and your brain functions at night only, you take your morning classes that end towards late afternoon. That way you finish, come home, shower, have dinner, have some rest then pull your night owl personality out to study.
How am I supposed to handle it?
Alright, let’s face it. I know I told you that college is all about freedom, partying, having your own car and all of that bull. But it’s also about responsibility, grades, priorities, friends, love, work, and instructors who are dropping the weight of the entire world on your shoulders. My answer is very simple yet very complicated. Think.
There’s no room for panicking, procrastinating, getting drunk every night and “trok boukra la boukra”. No. Just, no.
College is the phase of your life where you shape yourself. You get sculpted into what you’re going to become. This is when you become what you want to be.
The major advice I can give you is: list your priorities each and every single week. Once you’ve set your priorities, you have the ability to divide your schedule (alright I come home, study until midnight then go out for a beer). Organize your thoughts, your tasks, your responsibilities, and think ahead.
I’m not trying to scare you here but I’m not going to take you to La La Land either. The moment you set foot on campus, you put yourself in the state of mind that you’re going to get beaten up but you’re not going to stay down. This is the sort of motivation that you need because unless you’re a fine-arts major, I’ve already said this: college is no walk in the park.
What kind of friends do I make?
Be friends with everyone, and I mean everyone. But keep in mind that there are two types of friends. The people you know and sit with at the cafeteria, and those you go out with late at night when you’re stressed out and you need to vent. Be friends with everyone in the sense that you need to get to a point where you don’t walk 10 meters without saying hi to 5 people.
But always keep your inner circle monitored and handpicked. You need to surround yourself with an entourage that would encourage you, stand by you and lift you up all the while you do the same to them. Your entourage influences you in ways you cannot imagine, without you even noticing it.
So aside from that, what do I worry about and what do I not give much importance to?
Alright this is something I’ve stressed over for 5 years. My brother graduated with a 3.7 GPA, got a scholarship for a master’s degree in Canada and I was sitting home wondering if I’m getting a D or a D+. What you need to keep in mind is that -unless you have a scholarship to worry about- your grade and your GPA mean absolutely nothing. Nada, rien, wala shi. And this is coming from someone who struggled to pass his courses, and have found countless job opportunities after less than a month of graduating.
The thing you need to worry about is building your personality because this is what your potential employers will look for. They won’t care if you’re an A student if you can’t get along with their colleagues. They couldn’t care less if you passed a course after failing it 3 times as long as you have the guts to stand up in front of an audience of a hundred-something people from all over the world and sell a product just because you’re a good public speaker and are charismatic. Your potential employer won’t care about that project you barely finished during your third year of architecture if you have the leadership skills to guide an entire team and coordinate with them, come up with a beautiful design and portray it in front of potential clients.
You see where I’m coming from?
Now unless you’re a med student, please do worry about the grade.
Last bottom line
I wanted to keep this short and sweet but this is something that is extremely important. If I could write and talk for hours, I wouldn’t have enough words or time to tell you how to handle college. What I can say is be smart, be safe, be very tactical when making your decisions and always defend yourself from any bad outside influence you might have.
And always, always, always improve yourself, your personality, your soft skills before anything else because whether or not you get a job, you’re going to be a full-time parent, husband, mentor, or teacher one day. If you don’t build yourself up during college, you won’t after it.
Oh and please, please, please, as stressful as it might get, try not to pick up smoking.
And if you didn’t get the title6 Top bun (high-school graduation), lower bun (college graduation), between both buns (college itself).