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  • Rachel Alvarado

Lessons From My Advisor

By Rachel Alvarado

Throughout undergrad, my advisor was one of my favorite people to go to when I had questions. He had answers, advice, and was always honest. Although I trusted him, it still took me some time to really listen to some of the things he had to say. I realize now that most of my questions had the same solution. I’d like to share some of that advice with you.

Study days after you get the material. Not days before you’re tested on the material.

I think we’re all a little guilty of waiting too long to start studying. I know I am. At first, it was fine to hold off studying since the material wasn’t too hard for me to recall. Eventually, I found myself in situations where I ran out of time to study the new material because I had never built foundations with the older material. I scored poorly and had terrible test anxiety. This continued until one semester I decided the stress of cramming was never worth it.

Go have fun with your friends.

Balancing different areas of my life has always been difficult and I rarely make time for friends. I have realized now how important it is to make time for friends and yourself. When I wasn’t making time for friends or myself, I found myself frustrated at lost connections and constantly on the edge of burnout. I have gotten better about making time, but it is still something I am working on.

You need to stop working so much.

Of course, I needed to stop working 40 hours a week while being a full-time student. I was constantly tired, falling behind in class, and not scoring well on exams. I was working to pay for school, but in the end, I needed to make up an entire semester. Although some people are capable of managing a full-time job and school, I was not. I pushed my boundaries and overworked myself. The result was not worth the work.

It’s okay if this isn’t what you want to do.

Up until senior year, I studied chemistry. I did because it interested me, but I wasn’t sure if it was something I wanted to do forever. I found myself in a situation where I enjoyed my professors and the connections I had made and was afraid to lose them by leaving the program. So, I stayed. I stayed for almost seven semesters out of comfort. The comfort being classmates, professors, and material I knew. Eventually, it wasn’t enough for me to stay. Although my connections with my classmates and professors were there, my connection to chemistry had been lost. It was an uncomfortable departure, but things found a way of working themselves out.

During undergrad, there were multiple opportunities for growth and learning both in and out of the classroom. Although at times I wish I had listened a bit more carefully to my advisor, it’s all in the past, and there’s nothing I can change about the past. Maybe there would have been some different outcomes. Who’s to say? I can say all of my past choices were the best for me at the time. I’m not sure what the future will look like for me, but so far, it has always worked out. Also, if you feel like your advisor is saying the same thing to you, it might be time for you to listen.

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