college unbound

Dear Michele,
I don’t know if this is the right place to be asking this but I figured since you are a harvard grad you must be the expert on all things to do with University! I’m having a hard time adjusting to Uni right now….Don’t get me wrong I’ve made good friends and the classes are pretty fun and thought provoking…It’s just that I’m really overwhelmed with the workload! Does it get easier? I get scared and stressed whenever it comes time for a paper or an exam. Do you have any advice on how to help make things easier?

Dear Uni,

I graduated oh, like, two million years ago and I STILL have nightmares about having to take an Italian final I forgot to study for. So that feeling of being overwhelmed and stressed out is part of the experience! Its fun!
Okay, its not fun, but it is the reason that University provides such a great bonding experience. Because everyone is stressed out, and the people who aren’t are either 1. lying 2. geniuses 3. not going to do very well and in any case they are 4. not your problem.

But it does get easier. You’ll figure out what you HAVE to do, what you SHOULD do, and what you can PRETEND to do. And then you’ll find more time for mingling with interesting people and having fun. Because an important part of university is trying new things, hearing new viewpoints, and coming up for clever names for the “food” they serve you in the dining hall.

Okay here is a super top secret, just for you. Don’t tell my parents. Promise? Or my professors? Double promise? Pinkie swear? Okay: one of the most useful things I learned at University wasn’t something from a lecture, or even how to get a stain out of my roommate’s white leather dress that zipped up the back that I borrowed without asking her permission and accidentally got Hershey’s chocolate syrup all over it when I was—er, never mind. Where was I? Oh, right: one of the most useful things I learned in college was how to speak intelligently about things I had not read. Seriously, that is a lifelong skill that will take you places. And its not as easy as it sounds. Because its about listening carefully, paying attention, and knowing how to ask intelligent questions. If you can do all those things, you will find a lot of opportunities.

(IMPORTANT SAFTEY ANNOUNCEMENT: This blog does not endorse the wearing of white leather dresses that zip up the back. Ever. Just stay away from them. Trust me.)


Dr. J

Need Advice? Mail your questions for publication to The doctor can't promise to answer them all, but she'll do her best. (By sending a question you grant permission to have it appear here. Letters may be edited. Advice is for entertainment purposes only. No blaming us later okay? Okay.)

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