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  • Whitney Sylvain

CONGRATS CLASS OF 2018! - COLLEGE TRIED ME, BUT I CAME OUT ON TOP! LESSONS LEARNED DURING MY EXPERIE


From Louisiana State University (LSU) to the Savannah College of Art and Design (SCAD), I’ve seen a lot, heard a lot, and learned a lot. I could honestly write a book. But there’s no time for that, so, this blog post will have to do! Though my perspective on college is a little different having gone to two completely contrasting schools, (I literally experienced major culture shock coming to SCAD) I have a very distinct outlook on school, life, workload, and all the other highs and lows that college encompasses. I’ve learned a bunch about the most efficient ways for me to handle it all, and what to do when I just can’t. Read further to find my fav coping mechanisms & note that some experiences are specific to LSU, and some particularly distinct to SCAD.

Prioritize Mental Health.

I didn’t realize how vital mental health was until I attended SCAD. And if I’m being honest, I didn’t understand people who couldn’t balance sleep, social life, and work while making it look effortless...until I couldn’t. With the challenges of constantly trying to be better than my previous self and satisfying teachers while ensuring I’m “career ready” at all times, the massive amount of self-imposed stress and expectations sometimes became unbearable. One way I chose to preserve my mental health is by reminding myself daily that everything is going to be okay (literally my daily mantra). Because in reality, it will be, and the GPA, the project, even some of those peers your comparing yourself to won’t matter in 3 years.

While mental health is essential, you must know how to balance. Sometimes sleep must be sacrificed for the outcome of the project. And from my experience, 9/10 times it’s worth it. A few sleepless nights never hurt anyone and if you don’t make a habit of it, why not? Sacrifice plays a large part in decision making in college. Though I miss the days when I could cram the night before a test (LSU) and still manage to get a decent grade, I’m grateful for the structure I’ve learned here at SCAD where if you don’t begin the project far enough in advance, (and in some cases lose sleep over it) you’re not likely to get the best grade.

Student Perks are Lifesavers.

While I understand my rendition of the “broke college student” lifestyle may be much better than those less fortunate than I, I won’t discount the fact that sometimes falling short of money was something that I faced as well. So needless to say, student discounts we’re nice, and honestly there should be more companies offering student discounts! Half off Walk-On Wednesdays (LSU) and the influx of back to school purchases & promos that arrive in August were lit indeed. You can bet I’ll still be using both my SCAD & LSU ID to pretend I’m a student for as long as I possibly can! Wait...is that illegal?

Black People are Amazing.

Of course I knew this already, but attending a school where I'm likely to be the only black person in my classes forced me to take notice of the areas in which I am different. I've also learned to really define the experiences that African Americans face and how those experiences have shaped us into the blissful yet resilient beings we are. I'm not sure if its the movement of black people uniting & rallying due to our social & political climate, the #blackgirlmagic hashtags, SCAD's Black Student Association, or the black-girl podcasts I've been indulging in lately (or a mixture of them all) but I'm so happy to come to a point where I can vividly see my culture, and the multifaceted personas and experiences that come along with it and be proud of that.

Friends Are Essential.

Rather I was hanging out with my girls & making buffalo chicken sandwiches while watching the Victoria’s Secret Fashion Show, or dressing up to enjoy a night out in downtown Savannah, I learned that I couldn't have navigated my time through college without my support system. Finding those people who you can survive the all-nighters with, make hilarious inside jokes with, and be your most vulnerable self with is essential. I don't know what I would have done without the group text to gas me up in regards to my accomplishments & revise my words during a text argument. Seriously, thanks ladies <3

Everyone Doesn’t Have the Same Heart As You.

More than all the art history lessons and trigonometry I’ll never use, college is the paramount teacher of social interactions and relationships. How to spread your social butterfly wings to find them, how to navigate them, and how to mourn and move on once they’ve reached their end. While I’ve met some people whose selflessness and empathy has blown me away, I’ve also collided with some people who I wasn’t so fortunate to meet. Rather they’ve interacted with me in ways unfathomable to a queen (where disrespect yields immediate dismissal) or we respectively just didn’t see eye to eye, I’ve learned that everyone doesn’t have the same heart, intentions, and thought process as I do. While this is something I’m still learning to understand and accept, I’ve certainly been able to see these interactions more clearly. I don’t want to be an Instagram quote, but “Some people are here for seasons” I know, hard eye-roll to this cliche, but this is so true, sad even.

Ditch the FOMO

While fomo is a real thing and sometimes it’s stressful to think that with all of your work, you could be missing out on something, it’s okay to miss out or take a break when you need to. In the words of Oprah, the most important thing you can give yourself is time. So if you need to pass on a Saturday Night in Death Valley (LSU) or a Saturday Night at El Rockos (SCAD) so be it.

...And don't get me started on the other woes that come along with college life….time management, dating fails, the thought of student debt, spreading oneself too thin, and the brief feelings of homesickness?! I feel a migraine coming on just thinking of them. Certainly, there’s not enough characters or time to dive into it all. Maybe I’ll create a part two, or I just might write that book...either way stay up to date with whitneysylvain.com to see!


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