5 pieces of advice for a new college student

College is an awesome time. Your four years (give or take) at school can be the most awarding years of your life if used adeptly. Nearly anyone can make their way through four years of college, but emerging on the other side a transformed person requires far more than the minimum stipulations. As someone who’s been in college for a while, I would like to share my insight into the key principals required for new college students to thrive. If you are in college already, read these tips and brainstorm circumstantial steps you can take to achieve each of them.

1. Go to class

This should be such a no brainer.

But then you find yourself with 20 minutes to make it to your 8 am and a night full of everything except for sleep backing you up. Dilemma right?

Wait. This is college so that means I can just skip class!

Wrong.

Well, not wrong. But not right either.

Not going to class in college is like renting a hotel room and sleeping on the street. I can tell you that one of the biggest regrets any college sophomore will have is skipping too much class.

Is it alright to skip every now and again when it’s absolutely necessary? Of course! Just don’t make a habit of it.

2. Find your zone

I’m tempted to tell you that cutting out all procrastination is the way to go, but if I’m being honest, it depends on who you are. For some, I would say — without a doubt — start your paper today and stop procrastinating.

I myself am one of these people. If I don’t decide to start it right away, the next step my mind will take is deciding not to do it at all.  Further, starting my work the moment I receive it alleviates a lot of stress that can build up quickly.

That is all good advice!

But here is some even better advice. Learn the way in which you as an individual can achieve a high level of focus and be as productive as possible when working.  I know people who save everything until the night before. They take every textbook they own to the library and have a

I know people who save all of their work until the night before. They take every textbook they own to the library and have a 12-hour session of nothing but school work — mostly work that they could’ve done a month ago.

And the thing is, their grades are just as good if not better than the average student.

I am not advocating for this specific type of strategy, but people who do this understand something very crucial when it comes to getting work done.

A person who is extremely focused can always work quicker and demonstrate better quality work than someone who isn’t focused.

Better focus = better productivity.

If a student can find the place/setting/time in which their focus reaches its highest point, they can finish hours of work in a fraction of the time. The kind of person I mentioned above is simply a procrastinator with a meritorious ability to focus. They have no special skills or secret formula. All they know how to do is FOCUS.

This looks different for every person.

  1. Do you enjoy studying at restaurants and coffee shops or do you prefer your own room?
  2. Do you like to pop in headphones while you work or do you need dead silence?
  3. Are you more productive with a pen and paper as supposed to a laptop?
  4. Do you work better with company or alone?

Do some experimenting on your own to find out how your focus is affected by these different factors.

Side note: Don’t use attention-enhancing drugs like Adderall because the side effects could be damaging to your health. In the long run, they just aren’t worth it.

Whether you work best sitting on the floor of your room, in a loud coffee shop, or in the quiet corner of the library, it’s important to find the setting in which your brain can perform to its full capacity.

3. Friends

Be as social as possible your freshman year. Don’t shy away from making friends because sophomore year and on, it becomes much more difficult.

Why?

There are a couple of reasons this happens. When everyone arrives at school at the beginning of freshman year, everybody’s a stranger (with exceptions). Throughout the entirety of this first year, friends groups are forming and cliques are filtering people in and out all the time. And by the beginning of sophomore year, these groups are mostly solidified so from then on, it’s difficult to change them.

Another reason is, if you live in the dorms your first year, everyone is easily accessible and can hang out together all the time. When you live elsewhere, hanging out with a friend isn’t as easy as walking down the hall anymore. We all know that dorm life can be vexatious, but I urge you to take advantage of the social aspect provided while in the dorms.

4. Learn to cook

Don’t know how to cook?

Well you better light up the stove and start learning or you won’t survive the first week. Unless you live in the dorms or are on some meal plan with your school, cooking is an essential skill for college life.

You hear all of these jokes about how college students eat super unhealthy foods like ramen every day.  But the reason for this is often two-fold.

Yes, they don’t have a lot of money to spend on quality food, but their cooking skill only provides them enough ability to boil a cup of water anyway.

No wonder ramen is a daily choice.

Now for the guys out there, just because you’re a guy doesn’t mean you can’t cook well. I am a guy and I can tell you that all it takes is a little practice.

Actually it takes a lot of practice.

For two weeks during my sophomore year of college, I made burgers every single day.

Every. Single. Day.

Why?

Because I cooked a burger worse than Squidward could play the clarinet. My first burger tasted like a piece of cardboard that was stuffed under a dumpster for three days. But I didn’t give up —  in fact, I even did it with steaks too!

Could I have given myself a heart attack doing this?

Possibly. But it was all worth it.

Because now, when I have money for burger patties, I can whip myself up a nice dinner that doesn’t taste half bad and even makes me feel like I’m not roughing it so much.

The power of food is awesome!

5. Make an assignment spreadsheet

This is more of an organizational tip for anyone who has trouble staying caught up in college. For the first year and a half of college, I kept track of all my assignments in my head. It wasn’t that difficult because I only had 4 or 5 classes per semester with maybe 1 or 2 things due each week.

Then a new semester came, and all of the sudden I was bombarded with a surfeit of assignments and due dates like never before. My memory was quickly tested — unnecessarily I might add. I just couldn’t keep up with all the work. It was like the schoolwork elephant (wearing a nice suit and tie of course) stomped on me and stayed there until I convinced him to get off.

Eventually, I decided something needed to be done and so I came up with an easy fix.

SPREADSHEET!

Don’t you love spreadsheets? They are like a rubric for your life.

I split this spreadsheet up into weeks and marked down every assignment I needed to get done during the semester (teachers typically give you a syllabus showing this information). Whenever I sit down to do school work, I pull up that spreadsheet and look at what’s due that week. Once I finish an assignment, I simply delete that row so I only see work I haven’t completed yet.

Whenever I sit down to do school work, I pull up that spreadsheet and look at what’s due that week. Once I finish an assignment, I simply delete that row so I only see work I haven’t completed yet.

Works like a charm.

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Why I drink 2 liters of water a day

You know that guy who is always carrying around a Nalgene or water bottle around wherever he goes? The guy who drinks gallons of water each day and goes to the bathroom 500 times a day?

That guy is me.

Now, I used to think that guy was some pompous dweeb who needed everyone to know that he was healthy. But then my mom started doing it. When I asked her why she gave me a few very good reasons and suggested I drink more water too.  I was curious. Her reasons were logical but there weren’t enough of them to sway me. Nonetheless, I trusted her and decided to undertake the drinking of (almost) 2 liters of water per day. On days where I don’t get to 2 liters, I drink at least 8 cups (8 oz each). That’s my cut-off point; I won’t go under that. Back then — and even now — this was an unreal amount of water. (It was more of a pride thing at the beginning).

Fast forward a few years and I continue to drink 2 liters a day. Along the way, I discovered numerous other health advantages to drinking more water in which I had previously been unaware. And it turns out these advantages far outweigh the inconvenience of carrying around water all day — at least for me.

I am going to lay out the major ones for you here, and who knows, maybe it’ll convince you to become that guy/girl too:)

No more headaches

According to the World Health Organization, 9 out of 10 adults get headaches and 1 in 20 adults get a headache every single day. I fell into the latter category of headache patients as most people do.  It is important to note that headaches are generally harmless — the only thing to really worry about is the pain. That being said, taking headache medicine usually knocks out the pain, but a more natural approach to pain relief is always more attractive to me.

Why? There is something called a rebound headache — essentially it’s a headache caused by consistently taking too many pain relievers. Case and point — taking excess pain relievers can cause you more health issues, but you are unlikely to have side effects from drinking too much water — besides peeing more.

2 liters of water a day

Contrary to what I thought before, dehydration headaches are quite common.  Before I began consistently drinking a ton of water I suffered from headaches all the time. I’d have a few throbbing headaches a week. Little did I know it was being caused largely by dehydration. After a few weeks on my 2 liters a day water regiment, I noticed my annoying head pain had mostly faded — and all I had to do was drink more water.

The body requires an appropriate balance between the amount of water it takes in and the amount it excretes — in order to function properly. Water is lost through sweating, urinating, and simply being active, but then replenished again through drinking and eating foods with plenty of fluids. Dehydration happens when the body excretes fluid quicker than it’s replenished.  As a result of this dearth in fluid intake, the brain begins to shrink and retract from the inner skull and cause pain in the head.  This is known as a dehydration headache.

Self-diagnose for a dehydration headache using the list of symptoms below:

  • dizziness
  • fatigue
  • sunken eyes
  • dry mouth
  • increased heart rate
  • confusion
  • lack of sweating

The most common causes of dehydration headaches are sickness and working out.  Say you come down with a nasty stomach bug that keeps you over the toilet for hours. All that vomit is going to rid your body of a good percentage of its fluids. If you don’t drink enough water to balance it out, you’re at great risk for a dehydration headache. The second most common cause is from excess sweating — usually when working out. Putting in an hour long workout and sweating buckets is great for your health, but if you don’t replenish your body accordingly, you could quickly find yourself dehydrated. It typically won’t be very noticeable at first — you will just feel a bit thirsty. But after a while, your body will begin to give you a head’s up on your lack of water through — you guessed it — headaches.

By constantly rehydrating yourself even when it seems unneeded, you will be sure to avoid these kinds of headaches.

It’s a metabolism boost

By far the most widely known advantage to a metabolism boost is increased weight loss. A study from the Journal of Clinical Endocrinology and Metabolism discovered that drinking water increases metabolic rate by 30% in healthy men and women. The metabolic boost lasted for an average of 10 minutes after drinking but in some cases lasted up to 30-40 minutes. The metabolism is like the body’s very own calorie burner. It burns calories by performing what is known as the body’s “hidden functions”.

These are simply the basic processes which your body performs such as breathing, adjusting hormone levels, circulating the blood, and repairing damaged cells. Factors that do the most in determining your metabolic rate are age, gender, and average consumption. This is why more often older people tend to suffer weight problems at the hands of their metabolism. Similarly, larger people tend to have a faster metabolic rate to compensate for their size and consumption. Fortunately, uncontrollable factors don’t 100% decide our metabolism’s speed. I personally never struggled with my weight, and I am certain that is partly due to my love for drinking water. Drinking more water boosts your metabolism and increases your body’s ability to burn excess fat!

 

In addition, metabolism boosts can lead to further health improvements. These benefits include:

  • increased blood circulation
  • more energy
  • better mood
  • effective immune system
  • better looking skin

Metabolism boost(continued)

There are several studies linking an unhealthy metabolism to a series of mental illnesses including depression. Since diet is a huge factor in regulating the metabolism, drinking water will help you attain the optimal metabolic speed — which will boost your mood and increase your daily happiness and motivation. In the same way, an increase in your metabolism can act as an energy boost that lasts throughout the entire day.

More water also decreases stress. Studies have linked dehydration to higher cortisol levels. Cortisol is known as the stress hormone. By keeping up with your water intake, you will have an easier time dealing with everyday issues.

The increase in oxygen and blood circulation — along with flushing out harmful toxins — will cause your skin to heal quicker and look younger.

A better working metabolism also helps your central nervous system regulate the sympathetic and parasympathetic nerve’s more effectively. In simpler terms, you will have less stress. On the other hand, the same study cited above noted that a lack of water intake slows metabolic rate up to 3%.

And all this because you started drinking more water. Who knew.

It wakes me up and keeps me awake

2 liters of water a day

The typical morning routine for a textbook millennial starts with a cup of coffee.

I’m different.

Instead, I start off with a nice cold cup of water(usually 8 oz). Why do I do this? The same reason people put fake sugar in their coffee. Does the job without the side effects. It’s like a natural substitute for coffee. You can use it to wake up in the morning but not feel jittery or doze off when afternoon hits.

You probably think I’m lying though. “If water can wake me up so well, why haven’t I heard this already?”  Well first off, I’d be surprised if I’m the first one you’ve heard this from. More likely than not, you’ve heard about water as a substitute for coffee from a few others before me. But I’m going to be the one that proves it to you.

Water does a superb job at waking up blood cells and major organs. Drink 2 glasses and make sure they’re at least 8 ounces of icy cold water each for optimal effectiveness. Your body needs water to live, so jumpstarting the day with a glass of water is ideal for getting your body moving. Plus, it does a much better job of keeping you awake than other substances like caffeine.  Have you ever heard of a water crash? No, because it doesn’t exist. You get a crash from coffee, red bull, and monster because of all the caffeine.  Drinking water won’t make you crash.

Extra tip

But drinking water isn’t the only way I use it to wake up.

I will share with you the other way I use it even though it doesn’t have to do with drinking. Do you take a shower in the morning? The majority of people do. The majority of people also take these showers with hot water. Now think, what if someone came while you were sleeping and splashed a bucket of freezing water on you. What would you do?

Well, first you’d wake up. Then you would get really angry.

The point is cold showers can do wonders in waking people up. Here is a common trick people use to wake up with a morning shower.

  1. Do your normal shower routine
  2. Turn the water as cold as it gets and stand under it for 30 seconds.
  3. Turn the water as hot as it gets (or close) and stand under it for 30 seconds.
  4. Do this one more time with cold water for 30 seconds
  5. You’re done.

When you turn the water up hot, you open the capillaries in your blood vessels and create a great sense of stimulation. Then on the last cycle, you decrease your body temperature with the cold water. When you get out of the shower, your body has to adjust to room temperature which causes your body to work extra hard. In turn, this wakes you up and makes you alert.

Avoid and alleviate sickness

If you know me (or if you knew me a few years ago) you would know that I get sick frequently — or at least I did. The majority of times I was sick it would just be a cold, but it was still miserable. Water has important benefits when sick such as replacing body fluid’s lost through fever or vomiting. It’s very important to note that when you’re already sick, you only need to drink the amount of water that will satisfy your thirst. Your organs will already be working overtime to fight the sickness — you don’t need to give it more to process.

One way I use water to assuage my sickly body is hot tea. Obviously, tea is mostly water so it holds the same benefits. Hot tea performs a few different purposes. First, the steam loosens up mucus in your nose which aids airflow to my lungs. The better I can breathe, the more comfortable I’ll be while sick and the quicker I’ll recover.  Second, the warm water does wonders in relaxing my body and helping me sleep. When sick, one of the most important things to get is sleep. More quality rest means a quicker recovery and hot tea helps that happen.

2 liters of water a day

Drinking enough water to avoid sickness is ideal. The first line of defense in stopping harmful bacteria from entering your body is the mucous membrane in your nose. If this wall is not moist, it won’t do well in trapping dust and dirt. How do you keep this membrane moist and ready to catch foreign invaders?

Drink water.

It’s super simple and remarkably decreases your chances of contracting the flu.  In general, staying hydrated considerably lowers your chances of getting sick from something like a cold because non-mutated bacteria won’t be able to get past your healthy and well-functioning immune system.

 

Avoid a heart attack

It is estimated that over 17 million people die of a cardiovascular disease every year.  That’s roughly 1 out of every 411 people. This number is far too significant to ignore.

2 liters of water a day

I’ve got good news though. A study from the American Journal of Epidemiology discovered that drinking more water reduces the risk of heart attack significantly. Specifically, they found that guys who drink more than 5 glasses (8 oz each) of water a day literally cut their risk in half. Women who drink more than 5 glasses — as opposed to two or fewer glasses — reduce their risk from 147% to only 59%. This result remained invariable in other tests with dynamic factors such as age, education, smoking, body mass index(BMI), and hypertension.

If you took my recommendation to drink 2 liters of water per day —  about 7 glasses — that would be plenty to cut your risk for heart disease.

Helps digestion

When I was a kid, I would get the occasional stomach ache while eating lunch at school. But this wasn’t any old stomach ache. No, these made me keel over in pain and moan for hours. Eventually, they would go away, but I never really thought about why I had them. I figured it had to do with the speed I ate food — which was probably part of it. This continued into high school and as long as it went away eventually, I didn’t think anything of it.  But when I began drinking a ton of water every day, they stopped. It took me a while to notice but I had virtually no digestion issues anymore.

 

2 liters of water a dayIt turns out that by drinking (at least) 1 cup of water a half hour before eating significantly improves digestion.  If you’re suffering from digestion issues, I strongly recommend your give this a shot.

Note: Healthy water has a pH of about 7.4. That is slightly acidic. If you’re water taste a bit sour, you might want to check the pH level. Water that is too basic or acidic can have detrimental health effects.

 

Save money

I don’t think it will take much to drive this point home. There are over 326 trillion gallons of water on the planet (although only about 3% of that is freshwater). Because of the abundance of water on our planet, water will always be less expensive than any other drink out there. You can typically buy a bottle of water at a vending

machine for a dollar, but if you’re really trying to save money here’s what you do.

 

2 liters of water a day

Go to any store — Wal-Mart, Target, etc — and find the packs of 40 water bottles for $20. That’s 50 cents per bottle and sometimes they have sales where you can get them cheaper. On top of that, most restaurants serve water free of charge. There is no need to spend money on more expensive drinks. Water is cheap. Water has a ton of health benefits. Water is a catch bro.

Mental performance (and physical)

Recent studies have shown how drinking water can actually help you think more clearly. In fact, drinking 10 cups of water they found can increase intellectual performance by up to 30%. The oxygen that water provides to your brain improves cognitive function and your ability to problem solve. The brain comprises roughly 1/50 of the entire body weight, but it uses an estimated 1/20 of the blood supply.

Water also has meaningful effects on physical performance. The more water a person drinks (to an extent) the healthier spine they maintain. The spinal discs need water to keep them pressurized and moveable. Water also helps lubricate the cartilage in your joints for more resilient knees and elbows. Beyond that, you know if you were ever in a sport that drinking plenty of water the night before a big game was important. It got your body hydrated by game time so you wouldn’t collapse on the field/court/track.

How to conveniently up your H20 intake.

My biggest concern when I started this was “How can 8 cups of water a day be practical”? Many of you probably share this same concern.

Never fear. I’m going to take you through some tips that will have you drinking water all day without even thinking about it

1. Have a drink every time you eat.

How often do you eat? 3 times a day usually? Maybe you throw a little snack in there at some point right? Well if you drink just one glass of water each time you eat, that is already 4 glasses. Half of what you need for the day! Or if you are like some people, you can drink 2-3 cups of water with every meal and reach your daily goal easily.

2. Add some flavor to your water

The number one complaint I get about water is this.

“I don’t like the taste”.

It makes me laugh every time because water has no taste. But I understand their point. The lack of taste makes it very boring to drink especially after 8 cups. Luckily I have a simple solution. I do this every time I start getting sick of drinking tasteless liquid.

Take a lemon and squeeze it in.  Easy.

The lemon makes it sweet and enjoyable to drink with very little effort. You can even use a lime, orange, or any other fruit that changes up the taste. I wouldn’t recommend those packets of powder that you mix in though. They have very high sugar content which then makes drinking the water a bit counterintuitive. Stick with something healthy — like fruit — to sweeten it up.

3. Eat more H20-rich foods

It’s estimated that about 20% of our water intake comes from food. Of course, there are some foods that contain more than others and can really help hydrate you.

My favorite? Fruits and vegetables.

2 liters of water a day

Watermelon and strawberries have a 92% water volume which make them some of the best for getting hydrated. Have some on the side for lunch or in a bowl for breakfast. Some of my other favorite fruits would be grapefruit — with 91% water volume — and banana’s with 74%.

Vegetables are also great for water content. Cucumbers and lettuce are a 96%, and celery is a 95%. The rest of vegetables are very high up there as well, but these are some of my favorites. There are thousands of ways to incorporate vegetables into a meal. If you can find some ways to slip them in, it will improve your water intake!

4. Carry water everywhere you go

This takes some discipline. You’ve got to remember to fill and refill your water constantly, which can get annoying sometimes. The best way to do it is to buy a BPA free water bottle that can be reused over and over again.

But if you’re cheap and you don’t want to invest $10 into a reusable water bottle, then do what I do. Every time I go to a fast food restaurant, i.e. McDonald’s, chick-fil-a, Whataburger, take your drink cup home with you. Use it for the rest of the day, refilling with more and more water. If you hate using a straw more than once, grab a few extra straws at the restaurant and take them home as well. Sometimes I will carry a single cup around all day and use it for 10 cups of water. Most fast food cups are larger than 8 ounces so I won’t have to refill them as often. And the best part is that whenever I’m done using it, I can throw it away anywhere and I don’t have to wash it.

Win-win-win-win.

 

Conclusion

Did you know that 37% of Americans mix up thirst with hunger because their thirst glands are so depraved. Dehydration doesn’t only manifest itself in thirst. Headaches, body aches, and lack of sweating are also indicators that you’re running low on liquids. You might be depriving yourself without even knowing it. I didn’t even know how dehydrated I was until I began drinking more water and noticing health improvements. Just don’t knock it before you try it. The best things in life are always sitting plainly in front of us.

 

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