Deciding to be less competitive in college

Competitive people can’t help being competitive just like lazy people can’t help being lazy. It’s simply in the blood. But for obvious (and unfortunate) culturally American reasons, teachers, parents and honest friends will berate you for being lazy, but wont for being overly competitive. That’s because competitive people tend to excel: top percentile grades, multiple extracurricular activities and popularized class rank are among some of the achievements of those who win at school. But when you take down these signs of success, you’ll see that trying to be the best can be just as harmful as trying not to be above average.

You can lose friends (or potential friends) by being too competitive. You can stress yourself out, develop insecurities, and even inadvertently poison your own academic performance by being too competitive. Still, these things can fly under the radar while in high school, especially when you’ve got that 98% test grade that you were looking for. But while that 98% is super cool, bringing that level of One Student to Rule Them All attitude to a college campus is an infamously bad idea.

One of the first things you realize when you start classes is how many smart kids there are (and not just at your top schools and Ivy Leagues). Thinking that you need to outshine all these students, just like you outshined your high school classmates, might drive you a little mad. But it’s not just the competitive stress that’ll hurt ya—a big part of college is learning to be really good at working with people, not against them. Just take a look at the working world if you don’t believe me: Google works in teams, Bowing works in teams, the Government, of course, works in teams. And even if your type of career requires silouhed research or production, you’re still going to work under someone, with clients, and for a company.

But the key isn’t to just not care (not that you could). What it’s really about is learning to see your classmates as being beneficial, not a threat, to your own success.

Example one: Study groups. Study groups are much more popular (and necessary) in college, and you’d much rather work with another top student than an “I forgot my notes” student.

Example two: Group projects. A major part of your grades (for mostly every class) will be group work. And since in these situations you literally can’t get a better can’t than your teammates, you have no choice but to look to them for help.

Learning to switch off this desire to be the top student in a class will be tough. High school is boringly built around standardized tests and rankings—the irony here being that when you get into the working world, nothing can really be measured, and there are hundreds of ways to excel, hundreds of ways to fail and plenty of middle ground to fall into. If you can wrap this zen like understanding of “success” around your head, you’ll be able to stop thinking of being the best in college, and focus on just benefiting from college.

College Advice College Life Doing Well in School

A party school is usually a party school because it’s big and has a lot of money. Solo-cups aside there are a lot of good reasons to go to a big school with a lot of money. 

These schools tend to have good sports teams, good housing, good food, beautiful campuses, great teachers, tons of school pride and a lot of chances to make long lasting professional connections. And a plethora of good friends too, of course.

You know what’s more important than knowing the school you’re applying to? Knowing yourself. Because the reality is, you don't need to have heard of the school for it to be a good fit. The best boyfriends or girlfriends aren’t always the popular ones. They're just the ones you haven't gotten to know yet. 

There is more than one way to give a grade. When Forbes comes up with their 50 Top American Colleges, like they have for the past seven years, you must understand that their opinion isn’t absolute.

If you pay attention you’ll see that the list starts with no scaling system to support their choices and that even in the description of the colleges, popular statistics such as Graduation Rates and Student Diversity aren’t mentioned (at least not consistatnly). Neither, as you’ll notice, are tuition rates.

Okay, here’s my intro for the day—Free Stuff. Do I have your attention? Do I?

What kind of free stuff? Free summer stuff! Because everyone knows that the only way to close out a Summer is to drape yourself in an oversized sunhat and sip Starbucks Ice Tea until you levitate.

Every day between now and July 31st at 5 p.m. you can enter the Starbucks Brew Your Own Summer contest to win prizes from three different Summer Survival Kits: Summer Entertaining, Summer Fun, and Summer Style.

There are several things that change instantly from high school to college, like a caterpillar to a winged fairy insect. One of those things is that people stop judging you for taking school seriously. No one is a nerd in college. No one is a suck up in college. No one has to be told to stop messing around during class, because nobody ever is messing around during class.

Any good writer (or any writer trying to get a good grade) will know that the researching process makes or breaks a paper. You chop through an Amazon of online readings, collecting and jotting down game changing facts, stats and quotes in order to support your awesome ideas and tug at your teachers rubric heart strings.

The nightmarish ending to this journey is one we all know. 

Freshmen make mistakes. Lots of them. But other people's experiences can help you avoid a few. 

Ask an upperclassman or college graduate what words they associate with “freshman” and we guarantee you that “clueless” shows up near the top of the list. It’s not the freshman’s fault. For the most part, going to college is a totally new experience. And having new experiences means making a whole bunch of new mistakes.

The year was 1776 and the American colonists were too busy fighting a war against the imperialist nation of England to be going to college. There was no American History gen-ed at the time—they had to make it first. 

Every summer break from college I made sure to go to at least one music festival. This time last year I was driving up to Michigan to the Electric Forest Festival where egos disappear and people are quite truly transformed.

Traveling to a festival and camping on the grounds is a part of the experience, but it's also kind of the worst part of the experience. But what if you lived close enough to be able to go home each night or head home during the show to shower and refresh? Would be pretty nice right? 

We think it would. And we think attending some of these schools that are mere miles from some of the most popular festival stages in the country, would make a lot of sense for someone into that scene. 

As an intern you’re not expected to do great things. You’re overlooked, slightly taken advantage of, and quickly forget. You may not even have a last name—just [insert first name] The Intern.

But the secret is—they need you. They need you and they want you there, and there’s a lot of room to be great.

So how do you do it, you ask?

Future anthropologists will mine the internet and find countless seconds of audio files called podcasts. They will add up to be much longer than a person's lifetime. These anthropologists will wonder why we burdened ourselves with so much information and how we consumed thought provoking content so consistently while working, studying and or socializing throughout the day.

Like a spoiled kid on his birthday, when you're inundated with so many toys you realize you don't have the time to play with them all, despite how entertaining and enlightening they may be.

Having something you wrote with your name attached to it on a website that you didn’t create is resume gold.

Guest blogging shows initiative, skill, and business cunning. And although it seems like everyone’s doing it, trust me, it’ll still make you stand out.

The easiest thing for college students to write about is, of course, college. Using smart phone apps in college, going to parties in college, going on spring break in college. Just look at the advice pieces written by Academbot’s recent college grads.

Making a class schedule is like a digital jigsaw puzzle.

One class lets you sleep till 11 p.m.—another follows that class directly after and at the same spot on campus—but another has a better teacher and ends earlier while another is being taken by your suitemate. As far as puzzles go this one’s pretty fun. It’s a power trip in which you’re constantly treating yourself with better classes at more flexible times. But for a first timer, it can be troubling putting so much trust into yourself and the machine.

1. Elizabeth Banks- Hi my name is Elizabeth and I'm a Communications major at the University of Pennsylvania.

2. Rachel McAdams- Hi my name is Rachel and I'm getting a Bachelor of Fine Arts from York University.

3. Brad Pitt- Hi my name is Brad and I'm a journalism major with a focus in adveritsing at the University of Missouri.

4. Debra Messing- Hi my name is Brenda and I study theater arts at Brandies University.

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