(Insights from a 30-Something College Student) #2: Class Isn’t Your Top Priority

Mar 23, 2018

3 minutes

Y’all are incredible.

In 24 hours, I’ve gotten so many comments on social media about my first “Insights from a 30-Something College Student” post, including many of you who have ventured into higher education at a later age + embraced every minute of it.

You’re my hero.

Insight / Lesson #2: Class Isn’t Your Top Priority

Preface: I am NOT telling you to skip class … but it’s also not your biggest priority.

You’re going to college, or starting a new job, or moving to a new location to learn new things, no? Have new experiences? Meet new people? Have your mind opened in ways it hasn’t been before?

Sweet – that’s why I’m doing it too!

While attending class or “showing up” is where you obtain the initial information you need (and are paying for or getting paid for, depending on your situation), that info won’t matter for shit if YOU aren’t ready.

Yep, I’m talking about the things that most people start to skip when life gets busy/challenging/overwhelming: food, exercise, + sleep – the badass trifecta.

Some people slack off in all three areas, or they simply slack off hardcore in one area. I’m the latter type + I majorly slacked off on exercise during my first 9 weeks back in college full-time (aka I didn’t work out at all).

Thankfully, I have people close to me to help keep me on track with eating at least three times a day, and I already know how much of a monster I am without 7+ hours a sleep a night, so those were a given.

I was hoping that the whole “college students pull all-nighters” was a cheesy movie myth. It’s not.

The week before Spring Break, the professor in one of my classes asked how many hours of sleep everyone had gotten last night, while they were juggling writing papers + studying for mid-terms.

The class average out of 200+ people?

3 hours … THREE. I got my usual 7-8 and only one person got more than me (10 hours, but they were recovering from the flu, so no surprise there). 

Allow me to sound like an old lady by saying y’all are dumb. You need sleep. Your brain is like expired yogurt if you don’t sleep. You can’t process what you’ve learned + you can’t learn anything new.

Naturally, you also need to eat healthily + often to fuel that rested brain, and as much as it may seem like a waste of time, exercising for at least 20-30 minutes is going to GIVE you more energy + mental capacity. Seems backward, but it’s true.

Whether you’re going to college as an adult, or moving to a new location, or joining a new community, or starting a new job – doesn’t matter. You need healthy food (most of the time), daily movement, + at least 7 hours of sleep.

Just because you can SURVIVE without those three things doesn’t mean you’re actually making good use of your time + efforts. It’s like walking through life with a ball + chain attached to your ankle. You can move, learn, + improve much faster if you take care of yourself first.

You are your top priority. 

During my first 9 weeks, I took two mental health days, less than two weeks apart (aka I didn’t go to class at all). Yes, it was a red flag that I needed to start managing my energy + my responsibilities better.

Since lack of exercise was my issue, I added in time to exercise on Mondays, Wednesdays, + Fridays. I already have all my big papers + projects on my calendar, so I know the workouts won’t interfere.

I may have As in all my classes, but that doesn’t mean I can sustain this pace, and you probably can’t either.

College isn’t designed to ONLY teach you the subjects your classes are about or the major you chose. College is designed to teach you how to manage your time + what you need to be most productive.

Unfortunately, you’re not often taught this directly, but through trial and error, pain and tears, exhaustion and tension.

As an adult going to college, I have the added benefit of knowing some of this in advance, but it has certainly been put to the test the last 9 weeks.

I won’t sacrifice sleep, and I’m pretty much always thinking about food, but exercise … not so much. To this day, I still don’t LOVE exercising, but finding a way to make the most of 30-some minutes I have to workout – that is fun.

Limits will teach you more than freedom ever will.

1. Schedule your class time.

2. Schedule regular times to eat, exercise, + sleep.

3. Schedule time to practice, study, + complete assignments.

In that order.

You got this. It’s all an experiment to find what works best for you.

Plus, it’s going to change every semester anyway.

College also teaches you to adjust to frequent change.

It’s good for you 🙂

Photo by Sylvia Yang on Unsplash

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