How to Succeed in College Without Really Trying

How to Succeed in College Without Really Trying

My college career has ended, and my little sister is preparing to leave for college, even though she’s still a baby who can’t be old enough for college. I’ve been reflecting on the things I’ve done during college. Some are things I am thankful for, while others are ones I wish I had been wise enough to avoid. So without further ado here are my tips to succeed in college.

  1. Find your place and find yourself

High school can be hard and limiting, socially. College, on the other hand, has a place for everyone. I found my place in the Mississippi State University Ballroom Dance Club and with the Baptist Student Union (BSU). BSU allowed me to grow spiritually and gave me the opportunity to do missions in Orlando for ten weeks. The ballroom club helped me get in shape, develop better posture (my posture used to drive my mom crazy!) and gave me something that makes me feel joy. I cannot imagine my life if I hadn’t had an RA who was involved with the club. Thanks Liz!

You don’t have to do these things but you should do something. If you wanna join a sorority, go for it. If you wanna be a member of the Brony Club, I won’t judge you. Well maybe a little but that’s the great thing about college. It’s the time to do what you what to do and say, “I don’t care what other people think. They can think I’m weird but I’m okay with that.” One day, my freshman year I wore a frilly pink shirt and pants with low heels and a headband that looks like it belongs to a medieval. I shamelessly told people that today was princess day and didn’t care if they thought I was weird, and it worked.

Both the BSU and dance club have given me opportunities to grow as a person and given me the opportunity to meet awesome people. In fact, I found my junior year roommates, Claire Cook and Krista Smith, through my family group at the BSU. Which leads me to my next point…

  1. Choose your roommates wisely

You don’t have to be best friends with the people you live with. You don’t even have to like them. But you do need to be able to live with them. If you like things to be clean, don’t live with your super fun but super messy friend, and, of course, vice versa. If you want a quiet home, live with your mellow friends. If you want home to always be exciting and fun, live with people who are lighthearted and fun. Basically, just figure out what you want home to feel like, and see who you know that fits in that. I don’t like to talk in the morning so I need roommates who understand why I seem moody at 7 a.m. They have to know I don’t hate them; I’m just not ready for the world yet.

However, I want to dispel a myth. It is totally possible to live with your best friend. I lived in a small dorm room with my best friend during my sophomore year. And you know what? She’s still my best friend. We had to be mature enough to let things go sometimes. But the only recurring issue was that she is hot-natured, and I’m cold-natured. There were times when I froze and she burned up, but we lived to tell the tale.

  1. Be a good roommate

It’s not all on them to make you comfortable. Living with people requires give and take. You may know their worst qualities but that just means they know yours as well. Keep that in mind and try to be someone easy to live with. If you have a problem, don’t be passive aggressive. Get it out in the open!

  1. Make friends with people in class and your major

My sophomore year I sat by a girl named Caroline Caver in Communication Theory, one of my favorite classes (Shout out to Dr. Nicholson). Eventually we worked together at Chickfila and ended up in a handful of classes together. Even though we didn’t hang out or anything, when I missed classes or couldn’t remember due dates, she’s someone I could rely on to help me out. There are a handful of other people that I always looked for on the first day of class or tried to pair up with during group projects. It’s always comforting to know there’s a classmate you can trust to proof your grammar (looking at you, Jake Jones!).

  1. Find someone a year or two ahead of you in your major

Seriously, this is one of the most important things that helped me. Through the BSU, I met Jamie Lott. Jamie was also getting a degree in Communication with a concentration in Public Relations, but Jamie was a year ahead of me. While we were both students at MSU, Jamie was constantly giving me advice about which teachers and classes to take. Even during my senior year, she was an invaluable help, always there to talk me off the ledge affectionately known as “PR Orgs.”

  1. Internships

Now, we come to the regrets. I was involved in a couple, low-key internships in college, but if I could start over now, I would definitely take off a summer and get an internship that gave me tons of experience even if it was unpaid. Looking for jobs is hard, and I wonder if I would have a better chance with more connections and more experience. Maybe things would be exactly the same for me, but who knows.

  1. Work out

Take advantage of the gym membership included in your tuition. Chances are this is a much nicer gym than anything you’ve used. It’s also a great stress reliever, and if you’re in college, you need stress relief. But more than that, get in the habit of being healthy and working out while you still have a decent metabolism. You will gain weight in college unless you make a real effort not to stay in shape or have super awesome metabolism and most of us don’t. Fun fact: you can’t eat a #1 from Chickfila every night in the Union and not gain weight. It’s just not possible.

  1. Get Involved

Wait, Jackie, didn’t you already cover this in point number one when you said “Find your place?”

Hold your horses! When I say get involved, I don’t mean you should be associated with just one or two organizations. College campuses have such a vast array of people and opportunities. The more involved you are, the people you meet. During my first BSU meeting at MSU, the president of MSU, Mark Keenum, spoke and said,

“Five years from now you will be the same person except for the people you meet and the books you read.”

So meet as many different people as you can. Meet and develop friendships with people that have opposing views or different backgrounds than you. It will make you a better person.

I loved BSU and ballroom dance club but if I could start over, being more involved is something else I would change. There were so many things I thought about doing but for whatever reason (some valid, some not), I didn’t, and who knows what I could have gained from that experience.

So to all you soon to be college freshman, especially Mikayla, go out and enjoy and succeed in college! I am here for you and rooting for you.

P.S. It’s ok if you change your major, and it’s ok if it takes more than four years to graduate. Seriously, a big percentage of people have to go an extra semester or two. It’s not the end of the world.

Hey people who’ve been there, done that, what advice did I leave out that would help someone else? Let me know in the comments!

Now, enjoy some of my favorite pictures from college including a lot of the people talked about in this post.

Mikayla and I as little girls. Can you say

Mikayla and I as little girls. Can you say “Best Friends Forever”

picture of me and both my sisters

Mikayla, Chandler and I when Mikayla graduated.

Hannah Peay, Kelsee McKim, Sarah Carpenter and Tessa Brennan were my amazing group members during Orgs class.

Hannah Peay, Kelsee McKim, Sarah Carpenter and Tessa Brennan were my amazing group members during Orgs class.

Roommate senior year:

Roommate senior year: “This is what slowly losing your mind looks like.” One of my great (and fun) roommates

Jamie and me at a super cold football game. She was my college mentor and one of my favorite people!

Jamie and me at a super cold football game. She was my college mentor and one of my favorite people!

Nandita is just one of the great friends I met thru ballroom dance. She's gorgeous, talented and super smart

Nandita is just one of the great friends I met thru ballroom dance. She’s gorgeous, talented and super smart

Carley was my kids club partner during summer missions.

Carley was my kids club partner during summer missions.

This little doll was one of the girls I bonded with during kids club. She's from Ireland, and I still miss her occasionally.

This little doll was one of the girls I bonded with during kids club. She’s from Ireland, and I still miss her occasionally.

Emily Pogue, my college sophomore roommate and best friend with me at a football game.

Emily Pogue, my college sophomore roommate and best friend with me at a football game.

This was before a football game with some of the sweet friends I made thru BSU. Erin Bristol/soon to be Alford, Emily Pogue, Anna Matheny and Kimbo (Kimberly if you wanna be proper) Keel

This was before a football game with some of the sweet friends I made thru BSU. Erin Bristol/soon to be Alford, Emily Pogue, Anna Matheny and Kimbo (Kimberly if you wanna be proper) Keel

I was such an awesome student they named a hall after me. Strangely enough it was for architects but I didn't argue

I was such an awesome student they named a hall after me. Strangely enough it was for architects but I didn’t argue

At orientation getting ID's with Chelsie Jackson. I always joke that I look as pale as a vampire here.

At orientation getting ID’s with Chelsie Jackson. I always joke that I look as pale as a vampire here.

Dancing the tango with DJ

Dancing the tango with DJ

Claire, Melanie and Jamie showing me how well they can stretch

Claire, Melanie and Jamie showing me how well they can stretch

This is one of my roommates, Emily Akers, looking super cool with a light saber

This is one of my roommates, Emily Akers, looking super cool with a light saber

My rock ministries family! I miss y'all!

My rock ministries family! I miss y’all!

Performed with these girls 3 times a week for a summer. Lots of bonding happened.

Performed with these girls 3 times a week for a summer. Lots of bonding happened.

Picture of a sunset and the American flag

Star Gazers and Rainbow Seekers

Van Gogh once said, “For my part I know nothing with any certainty but the sight of the stars makes me dream.”

Most people are rainbow seekers.
They get so excited in the midst of a rainy day when they get to see the sky painted brilliantly in a one small, crescent-shaped area. I love rainbows. They are beautiful and wonderful and a statement of God’s love and protection. But I am not a rainbow seeker. God does not put rainbows in the sky to woo me. Maybe that’s weird. I mean, first it’s not like the whole sky revolves around me. Second, who doesn’t fall in love with rainbows?
Jackie Giles. That’s who.
You know what does makes me swoon and weak in the knees thinking “God, you are so amazing!”? The night sky. A full moon. Pinholes of light sneaking through the so dark blue it’s almost black of the night sky.
I hate cold weather to the point that I nearly cry BUT you know what I love about winter? The sky and the stars at night are never more clear and beautiful.
Do you remember how you felt when you first fell in love? Everything in the world makes sense and you find yourself sighing with happiness in the middle of the day? That’s how a full moon makes me feel. I look up at the glorious light shining down and I know that God loves me and wants me to be wholly his.
Last night, on what I had already deemed the first official day of senior year (I’m back in Starkville- but school hasn’t started yet), I saw two shooting stars. And maybe it’s superstitious and conceited of me, but I felt like it was God’s present for me. It was God saying, “Everything may not always be ok but I am here for you and I adore you.”
So here’s to my senior year. Everything will not go as planned. I will struggle and potentially feel like a failure but through all the ups and downs, God will be there saying, “My child, look up and gaze at my glory. I made this and I am making you into something even more spectacular.”
Because that’s the thing about God. His creation is GLORIOUS and we are his ultimate creations. Be you a rainbow seeker or a star gazer, Christ died on the cross to save you and wants you to be apart of his family. Know this: you are not perfect and that’s ok. Christians aren’t hypocrites when we mess up. We are real human beings, struggling to become more like Christ every day but we try.
For weeks, I’ve been wanting to write something to preface my senior year or something that was “15 things to do or not do your first year of college.” While that would have probably garnered a larger response, it wouldn’t have been true to me. I had to wait til I saw the shooting stars to be able to write this. And really that feels like a metaphor for life. You can’t skip steps. I have to do everything I will go through this upcoming year in order to be ready for my career or whatever I do afterwards. Maybe life is like a jenga tower. Take one stick out and the whole thing might topple over. I know this for sure: everything I have done and experienced has made me who I am.

I have loved the stars too fondly to be fearful of the night. Galileo

For me, the future is like the night sky. Dark, vast and unknown. But the moon and the stars will be the light to guide me safely home.

Are you a rainbow seeker or star gazer?

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