Advice for awkward people

Dear Ryan,

I thought taking five classes and joining a bunch of clubs after the Activities Fair was a good idea and that I’d totally be able to handle it, but I was so, so wrong. How do I handle this stress and still do everything I want to do? I thought college was supposed to be fun!

Oh Boy; Vexed, Increasingly Oblivious Underclassman, Seriously Lost, Young Abductee Feels Really Eager, Shows Hopefulness, Maddeningly Aggressively Naive


There are two things you’re going to need to learn, and learn quickly, if you’re going to survive at Carnegie Mellon (and at college in general). You’ve got to learn to prioritize your activities and manage your time.

If you’re taking a class that you really don’t like, don’t be afraid to reorganize your schedule (especially if that class is not required). Who knows — you may end up finding something you like better to put in its place. There’s a certain push at Carnegie Mellon toward taking 70 units each semester because hey, you can do it, right?

Maybe. But instead of taking that extra class to get that fifth minor, try joining some clubs. Lots of clubs! But then only stick with the one or two you really like and enjoy being a part of. You can like writing more than life itself, but if you have a nasty editor it can make the whole experience turn sour — something that this writer can happily admit he has never experienced! Just remember that you are here to get a degree, so if you find yourself struggling to pass your classes (and that is pass, not get all As), perhaps it’s time to revise your commitments.

Second, you must manage your time efficiently. I’m not going to sit here and preach good time management, since if you’ve gotten into Carnegie Mellon you probably have a pretty good idea of what works for you (and I would not recommend my time management style to anyone).

That said, once you’ve planned a schedule, do your best to stick to it. Because once you get off that plan, it gets infinitely harder to get back on it.

But above all, you should monitor yourself and your well-being. If you’re not happy with something, or you find yourself lying awake at night questioning your decisions, make a change. These years are about you. That said, don’t forget about your friends. There really is no substitute for someone who takes you out of your own head for a while.

For the love of all that you hold dear, be happy.

Or maybe it just gets worse,
Ryan Black