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How to Nix Bad Habits Before they Start

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As a kid, I once told my mother that when I grew up, I would eat nothing but maraschino cherries and blast the A/C in my car with the windows rolled down. This sort of wish fulfillment is pretty common in college (hey, when else are you gonna do it?). First-years come in with metric tons of black pens and color-coded notebooks in their brand-new backpack, but they leave that shit at the door when they enter the dorms and go full Bohemian. Nothing wrong with that, but when living on a campus, especially the first year, students tend to adopt a lot of habits from the general environment that are, frankly, stupid. It’s easy to pick up a lot of stereotypical college customs as a first-year, but it’s best to shrug these off, even though (and especially if) they can be pandemic.

Waking up just in time to get to class: Not only will giving yourself some time to get ready ensure that you’re in class on time every day, you generally do better work early in the morning (coming out of sleep) than you do at 2 a.m. (fighting off sleep). Wake up a couple of hours before class every day, get used to the early-riser sleep cycle, and bam — designated work time when most of the campus is too hungover to bother you. Extreme mode = waking up at dawn for super-inspiration.

Studying in groups: two heads are better than one in certain subjects, but be honest with yourself about how much your friends are really helping you. The oft-recommended study-in-groups strategy can be a powerful placebo. In reality, no one knows what you need to study better than you do — you don’t have to wait for you to show up, and you can’t get sidetracked by conversations with yourself (if you can, your issues are a bit outside the scope of this article).

The endless search for alcohol: Yes, there’s no better time to get riotously drunk than during college, and we all have a small, special envy for that one person who’s got a Google calendar of every party in a 50-mile radius for the whole semester. But, try to find a better reason than booze to skip doing homework.

Prioritizing classes to study for (in the middle of the semester): This is the one you should be doing when you pick out your schedule, not before finals. It’s usually a lie when we tell ourselves we can’t get our work from all our classes done, but if that’s the truth for you, there’s a problem. Painfully — but surgically — cut something else out of the day, like binge-watching that series you finished two years ago.

Joining sororities/fraternities: Like everything here, this isn’t an absolute, but there’s something questionable about shaving your head, accepting a name like Lunchbox or Fleaflicker, eating nasty-ass food and cramming yourself into a Porta Potty with a bunch of other pledges — all for easier booze access and matching merchandise. I recall once seeing a group of women at my school wearing heavy black dresses and long-brimmed black hats everywhere; I later learned that it was sorority symbolism for mourning the death of their individuality. Yikes. Unless the pledging process is something really cool like walking over hot coals or jumping through a bubble volcano à la Finding Nemo, it’s probably best to pursue less humiliating avenues to parties.




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