c/o Sophie Griffin, Features Editor

c/o Sophie Griffin, Features Editor

Welcome to Ask The Argus: a column brought to you by the Features section! Each week, we bring you the hottest advice from your wonderful, trusty, seasoned editors. Are you having trouble making friends? Is your relationship falling apart? Regretting your choice of major? Struggling with time management? Don’t fret: we’ve been there, and are here to help. 

What are your best suggestions for structuring my time if I only have one class per day? I’m in a few extracurriculars, but I still find myself with so many free hours, and I’m so unproductive as a result. I like the feeling of being busy and I really miss it! 

One of the weirdest things about adjusting to the college schedule is all the random free time throughout the day. In high school, it’s go, go, go, starting early in the morning and going nonstop all day (and sometimes all night) long. For those of us who thrive when we have a lot of things on the agenda, it can be a tough transition. Luckily, though, you can create a busy schedule or to-do list for yourself. Plus, tasks don’t always have to be arduous. They can be as simple as “take a walk around Long Lane,” or “go get ice cream with [insert friend or romantic interest].” Or even “join The Argus.”

The first step to creating an organized schedule: get a planner. No, not one of those boring ones you can get at CVS or Staples. Find a planner that you’ll be excited to open every day, and that has lots of space to write down your commitments. If you feel inclined, buy some gel pens in different colors. Then, color-coding by category, write out all the things that you need/want to do each day, not just related to schoolwork or extracurriculars but also fun stuff. Give each activity a time slot. It’s okay if you don’t end up doing it or if it doesn’t turn out to fill all of the time you’d originally marked off for it, but it will feel good to have it written down and on the calendar. That way, at the end of each day, you can go back and look at everything you did and feel proud for using your time so wisely. 

Ten University-specific suggestions for things to do to fill up your time: 

  1. If you or a friend has a car, drive to Miller’s Pond on a sunny day and hike around or take a swim. Even when it’s cold, the water can be invigorating.
  2. Read a book (for fun, not school) on Foss. 
  3. Do a crossword puzzle. 
  4. Go to Freeman and try weightlifting, running on the track, or even playing squash. Exercise helps with energy and mood! 
  5. Walk to Main Street and get coffee at Perkatory, a Nutella crepe at Perk on Main, or the best pizza in the world at Krust. 
  6. If you have (a ton of) extra free time around lunch hours, ask a class friend to wait in line and get Mongolian Grill with you at Usdan.
  7. Go to the professor’s office hours! They genuinely want to talk about their courses and get to know you. 
  8. Take a walk in the cemetery (not as scary as it sounds) and listen to a new album. 
  9. Watch to the Wesleyan Film Series.
  10. Enroll in a fun quarter-credit course. 

However, don’t get us wrong: it’s okay to not be busy! Society in general (and Wesleyan) teaches us that we must be productive all the time and that if we’re not doing something 24/7, we’re lazy. This is so false! Learn to take a nap and feel okay about it. Hey, you can even put it in your planner. 

I feel like everyone in my classes is so much smarter than I am. How do I catch up and hang in during class discussions?  

There is a name for what you are experiencing. It’s called imposter syndrome, and it’s something that most University students have experienced, especially those who didn’t have the privilege of attending an elite high school or who haven’t grown up using big words or engaging in “discourse.” Here’s the thing: a lot of the time, the people in your classes who seem to be the smartest and most confident actually feel just as nervous and insecure as you do. Just because they are more familiar with the language of academia, or are able to think quickly and shoot their hand up before the professor is even done asking the question, it does not mean that their points are any more valid or insightful than yours! 

When in doubt, do your best to participate in the manner that is the most comfortable for you, whether that be writing long and thoughtful responses on the Moodle discussion board or finding a personal connection to an intellectual concept that might feel far removed from your lived reality. Remember that verbal discussion is not the only way to engage deeply with reading and ideas—many of us process in different ways, or at a different speed, and a good professor will recognize that alternative modes of participation are just as valuable as long-winded tangents about social constructionism in the classroom. 

It might even help to confide in the professor or a classmate about how you’re feeling. Chances are, you’re not the only one, and having a buddy in your seminar will probably help you feel a bit more comfortable to share. Your ideas, connections, and understanding of concepts are important! 

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