“Hacking the System”” a freshman survival guide

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HackingTheSystem We’re just over a week into the semester and we’ve already reached our first long weekend. And freshmen, if you’re already feeling like you need a long weekend, I’ve got rough news for you…it’s only going to get crazier. But that doesn’t mean you need to panic! Countless students have entered Bethel’s campus and come out four years later not only alive, but with a fancy degree to boot. So while you don’t need panic, what you may appreciate is a little survival guide. The Beacon has done just that, collecting some tips on surviving the next four years. Call it “hacking the system,” if you will. Take a look. Studying does NOT have to include actual dying: The only surefire way to pass a class is to study, (sorry, no “sleep with your textbook under your pillow” myths here.) But fear not! Studying is far less scary when you approach it with a little creativity. First off, dorms can be loud. But here’s study tip number one: if it's too loud in your dorm to study, go to the amphitheater outside the Dining Commons or the prayer garden between the chapel and the library. They’re usually sparsely populated, if at all. Plus, you’ll get a little vitamin D to help you stay healthy. Speaking of staying healthy, allow us to dismiss one infamous college urban legend: pulling "all –nighters" isn't worth it. You won’t be aware enough to understand anything you’re studying and it’ll all just go in one ear and out the other. Just go to sleep and wake up earlier in the morning. Now to move on to the actual act of studying. First off, if you're going to find a study buddy, try not to pick your best friend. You won't get any studying done that way. Here’s an early exam tip: The earlier in the day you can get to the library to study, the better.  The study rooms fill up quick! Next up, to keep yourself focused, music usually helps. Pandora and Spotify are great resources, but some of us have REALLY obscure tastes in music. But not to worry! YouTube will give you countless super long playlists of any kind of music you want, including ones that aren't on Spotify or Pandora! Plus, on YouTube, you can actually select the song you want without paying 10 dollars a month. But maybe music just throws you off, but you’re not a fan of the way silence allows you to think about your upcoming exams either. If you need to listen to something while you study, but don’t want to be too distracted, then listen to rain, a camp fire or some other white-noise sound on YouTube. In other words: YouTube is basically the best thing to happen to studying since 2005. Eat, drink and get good grades: You’re not going to be able to do anything well if you’re not eating and staying hydrated. Food and drink are bodily essentials, but for some reason they seem to be a little hard to come by in a college setting. Here are a few tips to keep you from keeling over. First, ALWAYS carry a water bottle with you. Sip on it throughout classes to keep yourself hydrated easily. Most backpacks have a pocket made for water bottles to help you tote it around, too, so there’s no excuse to neglect the H2O. For you resident students, it’s a little overwhelming trying to pick a meal plan at the beginning of the semester. All those numbers seem to jumble together. Well, here’s a quick tip: get the flex plan.  It's the best decision you will ever make regarding meal plans. You won’t have the weekly pressure of feeling like you have to use all your swipes, and you’ll have plenty to share with those in need. If you find yourself bringing off-campus food on campus to snack on, keep napkins, condiment packs and gum in your backpack for all food-related emergencies! You never know when you’re going to need a little extra spice in your life. Here’s one final foodie tip, and this one may be the most important of them all: DO NOT eat at the Dining Commons before you have a long class or work session where you have to sit in one spot for a long time! Trust us on this one, you’ll have a better life experience if you do. Then, there are those things called classes: Scheduling classes can be a real pain, but not to worry. As is the mantra of this list, others have gone before you and survived. It is possible! First off, if you need to fit a specific class into a certain semester but already have 17 credits, ask your advisor about taking the class for 0 credits; that way the class will be free but you still get "credit" for the class. It’s a good way to get the knowledge you need without the price that you don’t. Also, make sure you always print your assignments the night BEFORE you need to turn them in. There’s one thing to be certain of in college: if you need the printer to work fast, it will be the slowest print job you have ever had. And if you’re still having trouble with that schedule, consider picking up some hours with a campus job in catering. You are able to plan your own schedule and work as much or little as you want. This last one is for you, commuters. If you’re in a hurry, parking behind the gym can just flat out make you late for class. Here’s a tip: arrive as early as you can, since most of the good spots aren't taken until 11:00 A.M. That way your car will be right where you need it at the end of the day. And finally…take care of yourself! You deserve it: College is a fast-paced, high-stress environment. But it doesn’t have to kill you. In fact, it can be a lot of fun. But if you’re going to have a good time, you need to take care of yourself. First off: Sleep. We realize that a full eight hours every night is probably pretty unrealistic. In fact, we realize that for some students four hours is optimistic. But here’s a tip: don't ever underestimate the God-given power of the 15-minute power nap. It’s better than nothing, and it’s been proven that you concentrate better when you’re not falling asleep on your keyboard. But if you can’t even squeeze in a 15-minute nap, here’s something most of you are probably already aware of, but it bears repeating: Coffee is liquid sleep.  If you haven't wizened up to the power of caffeine, then your first 8 a.m. class will teach you this. Here’s something many students find out the hard way: In the winter time, ALWAYS wear gloves when carrying your cup back from the Acorn. You will have so many regrets if you don't. Also, realize that your professors are not out to get you. If you actually talk with your professor about a problem you have, the odds that they’ll be willing to give you grace or help you out jump up a ton from the zero percent chance you have of catching a break if you don’t say anything. As much as you can, try and fit in some sort of exercise.  The “freshman 15” is a real thing! Plus, you’ll feel better, concentrate better and study better.  Besides, toning up never hurts the dating game. Speaking of dating, you may be under the impression that along with being a place of learning, Bethel is also a four-year dating subscription. It’s not. While many people do meet their spouses here, know that you do not have to be married by the time you leave Bethel as a senior! Marriage will come when the time is right. Don’t stress about marriage, that won’t help anything. And lest you think that college is all about work, it’s not. Find ways to relax: take in a play or athletic event or do a campus activity. Just make sure you actually have a little fun. These are the best years of your life! Relaxing will make sure you’re in top form to nail those exams. And finally, and this is possibly the most important thing we can tell you, know that you WILL NOT be the same person you were entering Bethel when you graduate from Bethel. College is ALL about growth. From your classes to your friendships to your jobs, everything is working to make you a better person. Don’t fear change, embrace it. Keep an eye on yourself, direct your growth and allow yourself to become the person you need to be. After all, you won’t ever really be fully “grown-up.” Life doesn’t have a “grown-up” point, it’s just…life. There you are, freshmen, a handy-dandy list to get you started on this big, scary college world. But don’t be too scared. Bethel is full of people who are happy to help you. All you have to do is ask. Good luck, everyone. And seriously, be careful with the DC if you’re not going to be moving for a while. That’s really, really important.
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