Students blog

Explore the latest trends, tips, and experiences in college life in this blog written by fellow students.

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  • Blog author Chris Simmons is standing 3rd from the left in a row of seven male college students standing arm-in-arm.

    Avoid the Trap of Comparing Yourself to Others on Social Media

    Chris Simmons

    Dear Instagram,

    I am so frustrated with you right now. I would have never thought that you would be one of the leading causes to so many mental health problems for my generation. I remember when I first downloaded you in 7th grade. I used to spend 8 hours a day using your app. I used to feel like I had to post pictures every day to seek attention from others. I used to feel anxious about my life because I thought I wasn’t doing enough compared to what someone else was doing. Then as I got older, I realized that your app has been feeding people like me misconceptions about who they are and what their value is in life. This has led to a major identity crisis in this generation.

    Now that Instagram has made it possible to see pictures of what others are doing, it makes people feel like they aren’t doing enough with their life because they may not be posting the stacks of money in their hand, or the nice house and cars in their driveway. This has caused people to measure their level of success by comparing what they have to what someone else has.

    That’s one thing I started to notice about going onto Instagram nowadays. People are constantly showing off everything they possess to prove that their life is worth something: a house with double doors, a swimming pool, and three cars in the driveway. Many social media users have come to think that the person with all those material things is the standard of what being successful looks like, which is a misconception. Success is about how far YOU have come in your journey to get to where you want to be NOT by anyone else’s journey! Everybody starts from different places so don’t expect your path to be like someone else’s path.

    Instagram is also where people can develop misconceptions about the standard of beauty. The study covered in this USA Today article included teen social media users in the U.S. and the U.K. It found that “over 40% of Instagram users who reported feeling “unattractive” traced that feeling back to the platform.” It frustrates me when I hear people talk down about themselves because they don’t have the certain look as some other person they might see on there. I hear a lot of people say things like; I wish I had blonde hair like them, I wish I was as skinny as them, I wish I had their skin tone. It’s because when they’re looking at someone else’s page with the 1 million or 2 million followers and reading comments on their picture that have the heart eyes emoji, they are thinking to themselves, ‘this must be what I need to look like in order to be labeled as beautiful’. But I’m here to tell you that beauty is not defined by another person on Instagram. Beauty is defined by the way YOU see yourself. It’s about embracing who God created you to be and having the confidence to go out in the world and step toward your purpose!

    For those of you who are using Instagram, do not let other people on the app try and talk you out of being who you are. You are unique and talented in your own way, and you do not have to spend all your energy trying to prove that to anyone. The only person that can verify you is you!

    Do you have a compelling story or student success tips you’d like to see published on the Pearson Students blog?  If you are a college student and interested in writing for us – click here to pitch your idea and get started! 

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    When the world knocks you down: Waking up with a purpose

    Chris Simmons

    Sometimes it can be hard to understand why certain things in life happen. It sometimes seems that just as your life starts getting good, the world comes to knock you down. What do I mean? I was at a point in my life where everything was going right. Classes were going well, I had a great part-time job, and an internship lined up for the summer. But just as sudden as it all came, a storm came into my life and wreaked havoc. While playing basketball with friends I was going up for a layup and felt an unusual feeling in the back of my foot when I came down. The storm came and it brought pain. That’s how I felt when I found out I tore my Achilles tendon.

    At the Doctors

    The doctor came back after looking at the x-rays and said there was a partial tear in my Achilles. I was shocked, but still remained optimistic because at least it was not fully torn. So now I’m wondering what’s next? Her advice caught me off guard. The doctor said I needed to get an MRI then come back to get a cast put over my foot and see if I need surgery. I was speechless. I couldn’t believe what I was hearing. At that point, I had no choice but to do what the doctor said. I was too emotionally hurt to say anything, so when she put the boot on, I walked out without saying a word.

    Man…..the pain was starting to run deep. When I got home, I went outside on the back porch and just sat there for 5 hours listening to music. I needed to clear my mind from all this mental stress.

    Wise Words

    While I was sitting outside, my dad came out to check on me. He asked if I was doing alright and my frustrations started coming out one by one. I expressed how hard it was to deal with this type of physical and emotional pain when I felt like I had so much going for me. How it now felt like my desires had been pushed back because of my circumstances.

    My dad looked at me and said “Son, you can’t sit around feeling sorry for yourself because of what happened to you. Life is going to keep going regardless. You have to keep your head up and know that your pain is going to bring you progress.” As frustrating as it sounded, I knew my dad was right. When he was finished talking to me I decided to lift my head up. At that moment, I realized what time it was.

    It was time for me to stop feeling sorry for myself and use this pain to push me to greatness. I knew lying in bed all day wasn’t going to help my situation. I started waking at 4am because I wanted to push myself to rise above my injury. I lived by the verse Romans 8:28 – “And we know that all things work together for the good to them that love God, to them who are called according to his purpose.” I decided to start waking up with a purpose.

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    Boosting Your Performance in College

    Chris Simmons

    College is a critical time in a young person’s life because it is the launching pad that gives them a boost to find a career path. That is why the mindset changes transitioning from high school to college because in college, your goal is to try and use your education to set the foundation for the rest of your career. People tend to be more focused and take more initiative in their studies because they understand the value college can offer. 

    Sometimes college students can get so caught up in the stresses of schoolwork that they feel like they can’t do anything else with their time. Yes, you should take time to focus on doing well in your studies but being buried in your books all day will not help give you the maximum benefit of college. Students should learn how to live a balanced life in college. Getting involved in activities you enjoy can help reduce stress and make college life easier. Here are some personal tips that I have learned throughout my college experience which have helped enhance my performance: 

    Clear Your Mind

    Take at least one hour out of your day to do an activity that helps you de-stress. I enjoy lifting weights in the mornings because it makes my body feel good and helps give me the energy I need to go about the rest of my day. Everybody has different forms of self-medication. Whether it’s yoga, going for a walk, listening to music, or reading a book, whatever gives you the most satisfaction, set aside time every day to engage in that activity. 

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    Making smart decisions in college

    Chris Simmons

    Going to college can be the most exciting moment in a person’s life. But freshmen can quickly realize that in addition to exciting new opportunities, there are also new and unexpected obstacles. Learning to make smart decisions in the face of those obstacles can help college students achieve their fullest potential

    When I was going into my freshman year, I could not wait to experience college life. I felt like I was more independent because I did not have the tight grip of my parents holding me back from doing what I wanted to do. If I wanted to stay up until four in the morning then I was going to do so because my parents were not there to stop me. If I wanted to go out to a party on Saturday night then I would go without facing confrontation. I was entitled to make my own decisions and ultimately I could choose to do anything I wanted. There was no one there to stop me from doing what I wanted to do besides myself. But there were stumbling blocks, too.

    One of the major obstacles many college students struggle with is peer pressure. You will encounter all different kinds of people that grew up in different environments. That is why it is important to surround yourself with people who respect your values and will not force you to do anything that can hurt your future. That way when you do run into those people who want to test your values, you will have a great support system to help you decide to do the right thing. 

    There is nothing wrong with having fun and going to parties.  I went to a few during my first year of college. My advice is to always think things through. When you do go out, look out for yourself and your friends. Or if someone is throwing a party and you have an exam for your 8 a.m. class the next morning, maybe the smart decision is to stay in and handle your business. You will thank yourself later when you see an “A” in that gradebook. You’ll appreciate the sacrifice you made to achieve a greater goal. 

    College students have the power to control their own destiny and set their own goals to become successful in life. Keeping those goals in mind and surrounding yourself with positive peers can go a long way in helping you make the smart decisions needed in order to stay on your path towards success.