You've probably seen by now some of the stories that we've featured from people responding in our comments section or using our submission form. Often people write in to respond to stories we've posted with their own anecdotes, or to tell a story from their time in the States.
Not Columbia University student Olga-Sofia. She just dropped in to offer, in her own words, "a few pieces of unsolicited advice for the newbies." But they're good ones, and we'll take them. Here are Olga-Sofia's five pieces of advice for those who, like her, find themselves "utterly unprepared" for the consequences of "sudden opened horizons" :
1. Learn to be bold.
If you have a problem, scream for help. My school has all sorts of safety nets, and I bet yours does (or will), too!
2. Learn to persevere.
Sometimes it’s just about hard monotonous work.
3. Learn to read.
If, heaven forbid, your native language is not English, come prepared. Read. Read day and night, never stop, and make sure you learn to retain information in English. One of my largest struggles was with English – and I scored 118 on TOEFL IbT and got almost perfect score on my Critical Reading section of SAT.
4. Learn that you no longer are looking at the ‘smartest’ in the rear view mirror.
If you played your cards right, and did all you could, you are at the right school. This means that your peers are most likely very close to you in intelligence levels. This, in its turn, means fierce competition. Sometimes I think that the curve is Columbia’s strategy to literally force us to pick the field of least resistance and therefore tap into our greatest potential.
5. Learn to have fun.
Yes, have fun. Right now, get out and have some fun. The second semester I had to drop a course in my major, came to my advisor prepared to crumble under the chair out of embarrassment, and… received a “Drop it. Enjoy college!” Shocking? Yes. True? Very much so.
Join the fun. Share your own stories and advice in the comments or using the form below.