TIPS FOR SURVIVAL AND THRIVAL
Everyone has their own definition of what they need in order to do well. This page provides a list compiled by some students in S.T.E.M. at different types of institutions of the top items that help them succeed. It's imperative that you spend some time with this list and consider making one of your own. What types of activities do you need in order to be content? What helps you when you're stressed? What helps you maintain your health (both mental and physical)?
Components of Survival
Building up your community is a necessary component of not only surviving in S.T.E.M. but in life. This is a community of family, friends, faculty, and most importantly of the self. Having people that listen and validate your concerns makes you feel heard, which is incredibly important during rough times.
More specifically, if you are able to find a group on or off-campus of like minded individuals (other POCs, members of the LGBTQ+ community, womxn in S.T.EM., students of a low socioeconomic status, etc.) it can be very beneficial. These are people who understand your specific situation and can either lend an ear or offer advice on how to deal with a situation. A trusted faculty member is also a value resource and a relationship worth building in and out of your department.
On a college campus, growing this community starts with talking to people, whether it is in class, in club organizations, office hours, etc. As a first year student attending office hours may seem like an intense experience but it honestly helps SO much. It can be the difference between a failing grade and a passing one. A strong connection with faculty members also allows you an outlet to inform them of any uncomfortable incidents that you may feel in class or lab, which allows some action to be done.
In addition to community, having a reason for what you are studying can be extremely beneficial. It may be hard enough to do some of the work in your classes, this makes staying motivated even harder if you don't appreciate the knowledge you are obtaining. This is not to say that you need to enjoy every single class in your major, but enjoying what you're studying makes it easier to persevere during academic hardships.
It's also a great time to step back and explore what you like! This means paying attention to how you feel when you're doing certain activities and reviewing topics. (Another way to investigate topics you enjoy is by applying for undergraduate research--see resources!) You have the privilege of being able to attend college and further your education, why not focus on something you love?
The kind of confidence that I'm talking about here isn't one that becomes arrogance, but is instead a trust in yourself and your abilities to grow and improve. A belief in yourself and your ability to learn is extremely important when it comes to continuing long-term in S.T.E.M. fields. It sounds corny but if you believe you will achieve something, then you will. Regardless of whatever mistakes or failures you encounter during your college (and beyond) career they don't represent your intrinsic worth. Making mistakes is actually a good thing! The problem of confidence is a pretty big one that exists nowadays, where people are replacing their self-worth with their grades especially university level students.
If you're looking for more data on this issue check these out:
Both of these articles discuss an important term, stereotype threat, found here
Managing your time is another skill to develop. Time keeps moving whether you are or not. Creating time for studying, work, SLEEP, fun, and self-care (whatever that means to you) is going to help you survive and thrive in school and work. Only you know how you work best!
Some time management tips:
It's all about balance!
Need more tips? See other university websites for new college students or ask your SA!
Also check out the link below for help managing work and school:
A few more helpful tips!
Check out this paper! It was originally meant for graduate students but also applies for undergrads too: