For many of you college students, fall semester is quickly approaching. Pretty soon, you will be swept up in the mania of stress inducing syllabi, Tequila Tuesdays, gossip, and begging professors for extra points. For freshmen, college can be an exciting and scary time. If you were like me, you snagged every opportunity to read endless listicles of College Do’s and Don’ts and grab every piece of advice out there. I was determined to avoid embarrassment and mistakes at all costs.
However, truth is college is all about making mistakes. If you are also hardheaded like me, you will make plenty of them. Whether you are a senior who has done these things for the 10th time or a freshman finding yourself in your first undesirable situation, here is my advice when you have broken these do’s and don’ts that you have been warned about.
SN: I always write with women in mind but these can definitely apply to men too!
Gotten too drunk
Many college students have woken up with a throbbing headache, throw-up caked to the side of their face, and a stomach that feels like it is disintegrating. If you wake up in a place that is not your dorm room, you might have to face that infamous walk of shame back to your own bed. If possible, try to call a friend or Uber to take you home, even if it is a short walk. You might also want to borrow some clothes if you can. Of course, you can also just hold your head high and strut back to your room, heels in hand and clutch under arm. Just, you know, walk quickly.
Self care is key after a night of drinking. Drink plenty of water to re-hydrate and try to eat some brunch. When my body is in shambles after drinking all night I also find that giving all my limbs a good stretch helps them get mobile enough to make it through the rest of the day. You get extra self care points if you get all your makeup off with a good cleanser and look up some ways to reduce the bags under your eyes.
If you cannot remember large chunks of time from the previous night, ask a friend who was there with you. I think a lot of people tend to mark off a black out drunken night as good fun, but for your safety it is important to know what happened to you and what you did. I have had to remind friends plenty of times that they have made out with someone at a party. I have been reminded of drunken rants. You don’t have to be ashamed about it but you definitely do not want people knowing things about you that you do not know.
Moving Forward: Learning what to drink and how much is a major key. My liquor of choice is vodka and my limit is about 4 drinks, either in the forms of shots or mixed drinks. Your alcohol tolerance will fluctuate depending on a variety of factors. If you drink more in general, the tolerance will rise. If you go a few weeks or more without drinking as much, that tolerance will go down. Of course, when you are at a party, do not accept a drink from someone you don’t know or trust and definitely monitor yourself from cup to cup. Most house party drinks have a lot of different liquors and you can usually get drunk pretty quickly. My friend makes me drink a whole bottle of water after we have been drinking and as a result we never wake up with a hangover.
Had that one night stand
Let me preface this with plenty of college students have one-night stands and feel completely fine with it. That is completely their business and it is definitely not my or anyone’s place to judge. However, sometimes you wake up next to someone and all you can think is, “Yea, this shouldn’t have happened.’ Maybe you were a little too tipsy and you could not resist that “Come thru” text. Maybe you’ve been eyeing each other for a whole semester but the sex just was not what you hoped for when it came down to it. Hell, maybe you don’t even know the guy. Whatever the reason, there are definitely some steps you want to take after you have gotten home (or he’s left).
As always, self-care is your primary responsibility. If you did not use protection (and sometimes even if you did) and you are not on birth control, consider taking a morning after pill. Not to be mistaken for an abortion pill, it is taken within 72 hours of intercourse and available over-the-counter at your local Walgreens or CVS. Next, you want to set an appointment to get tested for STI’s. Everyone who is sexually active should be routinely getting tested anyway. We are way to old to be embarrassed about it and not do it. If you are embarrassed, it is a clear sign you are not ready to be intimate with anyone in the first place.
Do not ignore the dude afterwards. This is probably debatable, but I don’t see the point in making it awkward by avoiding them and not answering their calls or texts. Be completely honest with them. If you don’t want to continue being acquaintances, tell them and go about your business. On the other hand, you might find they can actually be a cool person to just be friends (without benefits) with. You just torture yourself by ignoring what happened.
Also, talk to a friend about it when you feel comfortable. It will make you feel better. I promise.
Moving Forward: This one is tricky because everyone approaches these types of situations differently. I always think you should have conversations with a potential sex partner beforehand. You might gather that things may not work out like you hope. Always know exactly what you want before going in and triple check with yourself that you will be okay with the potential consequences. For some, it may be beneficial to become abstinent for a specified amount of time. Take an opportunity to spend quality time with yourself, grow closer to God, etc. Remember mental, spiritual, emotional, and physical health is always your number one priority. However you decide to proceed, it is always best to talk it out with people you trust, whether that be a friend, mentor, parent, or counselor.
Took too hard a course load
So you ignored everyone’s warning, decided to be a badass and take Bio and Chem/Econ and Calc/hard ass class and other hard ass class in the same semester. Now you are currently drowning and the Class Drop period has ended. You have talked to your professor and they are not letting you out of their clutches.
Go directly to an academic advisor. Do not pass Go. Do not collect $200.
You need to weigh your options. If you can Pass/Fail one of your classes, then that may be the best option. If you cannot Pass/Fail, talk to your professor about possibly taking an Incomplete in one of the classes and finishing the next semester. If you are completely honest about the situation and have a note from your advisor they may be more inclined to work it out with you.
If none of the above is an option then look for every possible resource to help you get through the courses. Tutors, study groups, and long office hour visits could really be the difference between flunking both classes and pulling out decent grades.
Moving Forward: I bet you won’t do it again.
You’ve fallen way behind on school work
See above. Focus on the assignments with the most weight and start studying for the final at least 3 weeks before. Study groups. Study groups. Study groups.
You stayed in and didn’t meet anyone for 2-3 years.
So you stayed a recluse your freshman and sophomore year. This was pretty much me. Then I started my junior year with the intention of changing that. I am sure by the end of the year most Black people at UNC at least had seen me around enough to know I was active on campus. Find a couple clubs to join and really try to make a name for yourself in the little time you have left. Go straight for leadership positions or roles where you have a lot of impact. There should be plenty of programs specifically for upperclassmen. For example, a few of my friends got a travel scholarship to spend at least 3 months anywhere they wanted in the world. The scholarship was only for juniors and seniors and they were able to use it in the summer after graduation.
Your resume could probably use a little TLC. Hit the career center and tell them you have not done much in college so far but you are working to add some experiences. Chances are you have more you can put on your resume than you thought and they can help you really polish it up.
Moving Forward: As a graduate, I am even more of a recluse so I definitely understand the desire to stay in and avoid meeting new people and doing activities outside of work. Pick something once a month to do and commit to it. Bonus points if it is a networking event. You will thank yourself later when you meet someone interesting or someone comes through for you with a favor.
With all of the above things, remember to not beat yourself up about it. You make mistakes. You deal with them. Adulting can seriously suck sometimes. I have been fortunate to have a mother who I can still call and whine to about the stupid things I do but I always eventually have to put my big girl panties on and face my problems. You will definitely get better at doing the same. You are more than your mistakes, it’s not how you fall it’s how you get back up, yada yada yada.
But seriously, always practice self care and to look for resources accessible to you!
Keep a lookout for Part 2 of this post!
~poetry, peace, and love~