I’m going to be honest – old, ‘experienced’ freshman to incoming new freshmen – theme meals can be overwhelming. However, they can also be a total blast! You just have to learn the best way to approach them.
Scout the Menu Before You Go. Download the Navigator app. This app has a bunch of helpful information, like the layout of certain buildings, where to find printers and the menus for both dining halls every day. On top of this way of accessing the menu, you’ll see cards in the dining hall on tables during the weeks leading up to themed meals. These will also include the menu for the meal, so you have plenty of time to decide what you like best. Knowing what is available will make it easier for you to get through the crowds without as much trouble. It will save you huge amounts of time, especially if you happen to attend during the dinner rush.
Go Early. Arriving five minutes before the dining hall opens will grant you the serenity of a quiet dining room (for about five to 10 minutes) and the ability to make a round and compare your choices. You’ll be first in line, and get the seating you want (you want the booths, trust me). By the time the crowd arrives, you’ll be halfway through your three plates of varied food.
Or, Go REALLY Late. This is the other option that involves maintaining your sanity. Go 30 minutes before the dining hall closes, and the rush will be gone. You can get pretty good seating, and your wait won’t be too extensive. Don’t worry about whether or not the food choices you want will be gone by then – they won’t.
Get a Little Bit of Everything. Theme meals are not your average meal. There has to be something special about them considering the crowds they draw. Generally, I take a plate and fill it with the finger-foods I want. I’ll get my fruit, cheese, snacks and desserts all in one go. Small portions are key. Then, after comparing my options, I’ll go to each food station and ask for a little of my favorite dish (or dishes) that they’re serving there. Eating a little bit of everything makes you feel like you’re getting the most out of the themed meal. So no, don’t feel bad when you realize you’re eating cotton candy, candied apples, churros and corn dogs all at once.
May the themed-meal odds be ever in your f(l)avor!
Perhaps the hardest part about transitioning to college is learning how to manage your studying. The good news is, there are a lot of people who have dealt with the same exact transition and have lived to tell the tale! Without being able to manage studying, it won’t matter how great your study skills are. Learning to be efficient is key. Here are some steps on learning to become efficient at managing your time and studies!
- Find some sort of daily planning system that works for you. Throughout high school, I tried and failed and tried again to use a yearly planner. It never lasted for more than a week. In college, I tried again, and it lasted for about a month. However, I have kept trying various approaches, and what I have found to be best for me is drawing a mind-map with my whole day spread out! I’ve stuck to this all semester, and I find it both calming and effective, especially since I am a very visual person.
- Be aware of all the planning options out there! There’s a lot more available in this day and age other than the general yearly planner. If you want something quick and easy, try out to-do list pads. If you’re more artistic or visual, there are options ranging from mind-maps to bullet journals! More tech-savvy people may find various apps easily downloaded on their smartphone to be the simplest method. If you don’t feel like taking the time buying/creating/learning to use any of these methods, you can go down to the very basics and write your daily activities on a sticky note that you hang from your desk where you’ll see it first thing in the morning! Never think that there isn’t an option for you – chances are there are dozens more that you simply haven’t looked into!
- Incorporate studying into your planner. Using my mind-maps as an example, I make sure to include both studying and my classes while creating my layout. For me, this doesn’t mean just saying “study after lunch”. Instead, I box off specific times for each assignment I want to work on. Knowing exactly what you want to accomplish and having a time you’ve designated to accomplish it saves you a lot of time that could be spent saying you’ll “get to it later” or trying to decide what on earth you’ll actually work on that day!
- Use those spare hours. If you’re like me, you don’t feel like you can accomplish much in only an hour. If I have a class at 9, and then another 11, I’ll generally find myself lying in bed on my phone between the two, claiming there’s not enough time to get started on anything. The truth is, I could probably write a journal entry, make and study flashcards, outline an essay, or do a couple of class readings! When you write everything down with an assigned time, you’re more likely to schedule those spare hours that you have every single day for productive tasks. They seem like a little, but they sure add up.
- Consider studying/going to classes your job. I’m sure you’ve heard this before, and it’s not a lie. Prep yourself for having to spend upwards of 5 hours a day on studying. It sounds like a lot, and in all honesty, it is. But it is also quite often necessary. The good news is, it’s easy to fit in 5 hours and still have plenty of time to relax or hang out with friends. Get in an hour or two between classes, and then come back for a three-hour chunk of time. It goes by quickly if you block it off into smaller sections for specific assignments.
- Find your ‘spot’. I’ve found that there’s a huge difference between how much I get done studying in my room vs. studying in my ‘spot’. If I’m writing an essay in my room, I’ll get it done in about 3 hours. If I’m writing it in my ‘spot’, it’ll take only 1 hour and a half, and I’ll get to spend the rest of the time getting ahead on other subjects. Your ‘spot’ can be anywhere! Mine happens to be at a specific Starbucks that has a dimmed study room with quiet music. I’m twice as productive there, and nobody bothers me for hours. It’s a dream. Your spot will come in handy on days when you have piles of work to do and really don’t feel like pulling an all-nighter.
Getting good grades and studying in college doesn’t have to be difficult. Be aware of the dedication involved, and then set yourself up to succeed!