Seven Habits of Highly Successful Sober College Students

 

Seven Habits of Highly Successful Sober College Students

I decided to go to college in my first year of sobriety. That first attempt at school was not as successful as I hoped it would be. I was over committed and under invested. I had a lot of exciting things happening in my life because of recovery and I didn’t make school a priority. I ended up being put on academic suspension. The baffling thing was that I was excelling in all other areas of my life. I just wasn’t as committed to school as I needed to be. After a couple years of life experience (working jobs I didn’t enjoy and yearning for a more stable career), I decided that it was time to return to school. My first attempt at school, with all its mistakes and shortcomings, gave me some perspective on things I needed to change if I wanted to be successful. Here are some habits that I developed the second time around which allowed me to thrive.

  1. Go to class, then actually do the homework. While this seems obvious, it is something that I saw many people not doing (including myself the first time around). It is easy to convince yourself that not going to some classes is not that big of a deal. However, once I didn’t go to one or two classes, it was much easier to buy into the delusion that missing a few more classes would also be fine. The same thing goes for assignments. It can be a lot of work, but chances are we are making it a bigger deal in our heads than it really is. The feeling of accomplishment is worth the effort every time.
  2. Form relationships with your professors and utilize office hours. Talking to your professors before and after class and going to their office to chat shows them that you actually care about the course. This has helped me out many times when I was struggling with material or was out sick and couldn’t make it to class. Almost all of the professors I had wanted to form relationships with their students because they care about them and they care about their education.
  3. Connect with other students. Being in recovery, I was used to fellowship, but for some reason it took me a while to carry this over to my school life. Once I started to reach out to other people in my class and get together with them for study groups and other things, I felt more connected to the class. I also was able to discuss ideas with my classmates and we were able to teach each other which is something that helped me to better retain and understand the material.
  4. Get involved in extracurricular activities. Part of my recovery process was discovering that there is more to life than just recovery. I found things that I enjoyed, because without having fun I felt overwhelmed and burned out. In my addiction, I missed out on so many amazing opportunities. Recovery taught me how to live and enjoy life, so I no longer had to watch from the sidelines.
  5. Balancing your recovery life. It can be easy to fool yourself into thinking, “I’ve got too much going on. I don’t have time to go to a meeting, or meet with my sponsor, or keep that service commitment.” Those things along with daily disciplines are exactly what I need to make time for. Those are the actions that will give me freedom and serenity during the stressful and overwhelming times. I make time for things that are a priority for me; it is as simple as that.
  6. Divide up tasks into manageable chunks. A 20-page paper is not meant to be written in a day. I’m not supposed to read half of the textbook the night before. These sorts of things take time management skills. I would make reasonable plans and timelines for tasks and projects so that I could devote adequate time and not feel overwhelmed and rushed.
  7. Keep your eye on the prize. College is difficult, absolutely. Being in college and managing a recovery life while juggling other responsibilities is even more difficult. But it is not impossible, far from it. It will take work, and you make mistakes. I have made many mistakes, but I continue to show up, work on myself and trust the process. The feeling of accomplishment when completing a tough course with a passing grade or walking across the stage to receive a diploma is worth the hours spent getting to that point.

For many of us, college seemed like a distant dream. In recovery, we get the opportunity to revisit our once lost dreams and, with support, make them realities. What may be the single most important habit of a highly successful sober college student is not trying to do it alone. Having a like-minded community of peers turns what may have been an isolating and overwhelming experience into an inspired and gratifying journey. Sober college students are everywhere – join us!

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Sober Fraternity
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