Most of the college alumni remember college as the best four years of their lives. There were a lot of new friends found, a lot of nights danced away, a lot of new passions discovered, and a lot of things learned. However, some of us may remember more struggle than enjoyment. Managing our newfound responsibilities and endless anxieties can be hard even with (and often because of) all the freedom we have. College is a time to learn how to take care of yourself among other things. Start from not making the following popular mistakes.

Going with the flow

Planning is so boring, and adult, and lame. You’ll just go with the flow. You are smart. You can handle all the assignments one at a time as the deadline creeps up, right?

 Wrong. College is absolutely devoid of that easy flow that you had back at school. It’s chaotic. It’s messy. You might one day discover that you have three papers due tomorrow, and each demands at least eight hours of research prior to actual writing. And unless you know some paperwriting wizard who will help you out, you are screwed. 

You must ration your academic load and free time. You must schedule things and use planners and calendars unless you want a nervous breakdown at the end of the first year.

Skipping sleep

Sleep is for the week and college is for partying, y’all. For socializing. For making memories. Of course, you must take care of those assignments, lest you get expelled, but who has the time for sleep? Party all Saturday night and then meet your study group on Sunday at the library to work on the project that’s due on Monday. That is what real students do!

Nope, that is what exhausted and sleep-deprived zombies do until they need medical attention. You must learn to balance your workload with social life AND with sleep. It’s a key ingredient to successful studying and partying. To enjoy life and be sharp you must be well-rested, and there’s no way around it.

Surviving on coke and chips

You are young and strong, you need calories pronto, you can survive on anything that you can get from the vending machine on your campus. After all, the label says that this stuff has nutritional value, okay?

No, this is not okay. Your young organism can handle everything you throw in it just for so long. I remember when I was at college, half of us already had problems with our stomachs. The other half got them by the time we graduated. I encourage you to think of your nutrition seriously.

Leaning to cook – that is a true rite of passage! It’s hard, but kind of cool. Switch up your meals, avoid junky snacks like crisps, always have water with you during long classes – and you will be okay.

Neglecting working out

Your weight is fine, you don’t need working out. Anyway, if you decide your body is getting a bit too wintery, you can always start skipping lunches, right?

Wow, I don’t even know where to start on this. I think it’s an American thing to use fitness and slimness interchangeably. Being fit means being healthy and agile. It means stamina. You have to work out to get all this regardless of your body type.

Did you know that colleges often include the gym in their tuition fees? You’ve already paid for that, go and use it! If you insist you do not have time, walk to your classes and climb the stairs instead of using the elevator for an easy workout. If you are a night owl, jogging in the park is just as good in the evenings – do not force yourself to get up at 5 am, just because popular culture endorses this stereotype.

Exploring your sexuality YOLO-style

College is the time when most people start being active sexually and you don’t want to miss out on all the fun. That is true enough if that is indeed what you want.

If you have questions – take sexual education class or just talk to someone you trust. If you still have reservations and do not feel ready, then stay firm and say no to peer pressure. If you do feel ready, then do not forget to use protection at all times, have an ongoing conversation with your partner, and remember that you can always stop if you don’t feel comfortable with something and do not want to continue.

Ignoring your illnesses

Common cold never killed anyone. So why should you skip classes if you feel a bit under the weather, huh? Maybe it’s your grit. Maybe you are anxious about catching up later. Maybe your parents thought you’re only making it up to skip classes and sent you off anyway. Whatever the reason you are coming to classes feeling unwell – stop doing that.

First, it will only make things worse – have you heard about common cold complications? Second, you can infect other students. Handling this like a responsible adult would be emailing your professors to explain your absence and staying in bed.

To prevent falling ill in the first place, keep your immunization up to date, make regular flu shots, take vitamins, avoid sharing beverages with other people, wash your hands frequently, and – I cannot stress that enough – follow the tips above. Have stressless and healthy best years of your life. Make some happy memories!