How to Survive College According to Hamilton

Fans of the musical Hamilton will assure anyone that the lessons one can glean from the show are infinite in number. There is a reason people are obsessed with a hip-hop musical about the first U.S. Treasury Secretary; it resonates with the average American. With its themes of perseverance, writing, and self-discovery, Hamilton is also incredibly relatable for students struggling to survive (and thrive) in the college season of life. Here are a few wisdom-filled lines from the musical that may help new college students—Hamilton fans or not—stay alive and get the job done.

You really do write like you’re running out of time. –Eliza Hamilton in “Who Lives, Who Dies, Who Tells Your Story”

College is full of writing assignments. It doesn’t seem to matter how well you avoid procrastination; you will always end up writing at least one essay like a total madman at an unnatural hour of the morning at some point in your career. If you’re aware that such an experience is coming (usually near the close of a semester) you can be ready with multiple shots of espresso the day after.

Take a break! –Angelica Schuyler and Eliza Hamilton in “Take a Break”

You must take breaks. Sometimes this means a Sunday afternoon binge watching The Office, and sometimes it just means a power nap between classes. Whenever and however you squeeze breaks into your schedule does not matter. What matters is that you do not turn into Alexander Hamilton, who wrote 51 (loooong) essays in under 7 months but neglected his family relationships and friendships in the process.

Remember from here on in, history has its eyes on you – George Washington in “History has its Eyes on You”

Alexander Hamilton wouldn’t have been much older than me and you when this scene took place. True, few college students will lead revolutionary troops into battle, but it’s critical to realize that in many ways history does have its eyes on you. Universities are platforms for cultural innovation: politics, technology, music, language, and social norms. People are watching what you do. Let that inspire you to greatness, not scare you into mediocrity.

For once in your life take a stand with pride. –Alexander Hamilton to Aaron Burr in “Non-stop”

Even if you were the kid in high school who was shy about your hobbies and talents for fear of rejection and judgment, it’s okay; nobody on campus knows that. College is a fresh canvas waiting for your honest, artistic touch. Whoever you want to be, whatever you want to believe in, do it. In “Non-Stop,” the thing Burr is afraid to proudly endorse is the United States Constitution, and we all know how well that turned out. College is the place to grow into a better version of who you already are; don’t let fear dictate your life.

Look at where you are, look at where you started. –Eliza Hamilton in “That Would Be Enough”

Despite Hamilton’s public confidence, Eliza knows firsthand her husband’s insecurities about his past, and she consistently has to remind Alexander that he truly has accomplished much. You, too, will face this sort of doubt. One bad grade, one hurtful comment from a professor, or one internship rejection letter can taint an entire semester, if you allow it to. When you hit a low patch, find an Eliza in your life, someone who can remind you of how far you’ve come since high school graduation and highlight your vast potential.

Do not throw away your shot. –Alexander Hamilton in “Stay Alive”

Arguably, this is the main theme of Hamilton, and this line could have been picked from any number of songs. What is great about this particular usage of the line is that after preaching this sermon to himself, Hamilton encourages his friend John Laurens not to waste his own opportunity to impact the world. While you’re in college, reach for your dreams. Try something new. Take every opportunity to become a better person. And while you’re at it, encourage your roommates, classmates, and friends to do the same thing!

Pick up a pen, start writing! –President Washington in “One Last Time”

“Pick up your device, start typing” would be a fair modern equivalent of this line. In the song, President Washington is trying to orate his farewell address to Hamilton who, instead of taking notes from his Commander in Chief, is arguing about why Washington should not step down from office. This is not how you want your college experience to be. In no other stage of life will you encounter such a treasure trove of intellectual wealth; do not throw away your shot to partake of the wisdom. Take notes everywhere, not just in class. Go to free conferences and seminars held on-campus, grab lunch with a professor or advisor, and when you learn something moving or useful, pick up a pen (or your iPhone) and save it for later.

Why do you assume you’re the smartest in the room? Soon that attitude may be your doom! –Aaron Burr in “Non-Stop”

My friend, you have much to learn about life, about education, and about yourself. Start college with a learner’s attitude, and you will graduate into the real world with a learner’s posture that will take you more places than you could ever imagine. Be confident in your abilities, but don’t assume that any amount of skill or knowledge that you have is enough. Stay hungry for wisdom and be humble in all that you do.

The fact that you’re alive is a miracle. Just stay alive, that would be enough. –Eliza Hamilton in “Non-Stop”

Tell yourself this during finals week. Plaster it on your Pinterest inspired bulletin board. Get a sharpie, and write it on your favorite mug. Sticky Note it to your bathroom mirror. Do whatever it takes to remind yourself that if you survived this long, you can survive to the end.

Who are you? Who are you? Who are you? Who, who is this kid, what’s he gonna do? –John Laurens, Marquis Lafayette, and Hercules Mulligan in “Aaron Burr, Sir”

People are going to ask you this, just with a lot less pizazz than the Hamilton cast. The first few weeks of school are especially full of questions, club and social invitations, and a whole lot of names you may or may not remember. Soak it all in, but make sure you filter it out. Hamilton came to America with a huge list of potential friends, careers, and legacies. He couldn’t say yes to everything or become everyone, and the same is true for you. Know who you want to become, but also be sure of who you already are.

And then you’ll blow us all away! –Aaron Burr and Alexander Hamilton in “Dear Theodosia”

College can be one of life’s trickiest phases, but it’s one of life’s greatest (and briefest) stages as well. Enjoy the next few years for all that they are worth. Whatever choices you make, make them with excellence and you really will blow us all away.

Written by Savanna

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10 Survival Tips for College Freshmen

I’ve been in college for all of five weeks, so I’m pretty much an expert now. Yet even in my limited time, I’ve gained some insights into which habits help me thrive and which ones make me prone to breakdown in front of a Disney movie, scribbling away my sorrows in a coloring book. (Target has coloring books for two dollars…but you didn’t hear that from me.)

1: Nap whenever possible.

But always, always set an alarm. It’s cute how you think you won’t fall asleep for more than twenty minutes. Ha!

2: Eat Grab and Go Food

Those pre-packaged sandwiches and salads by the door of the cafeteria? Yeah, you aren’t above them. Try it next time you need to eat lunch in a hurry. You’ll more than likely never go back to the dark side.

3: Coffee.

Who are we? Students! What are we? Tired! What do we need in an IV right now? Coffee! If you aren’t a coffee drinker, become one. Personally, I don’t believe that tea cuts the mustard, but you may certainly try it. *pats head*

4: Take dat shuttle.

You’re not too cool for the shuttle. I know that when school first starts, we’re all forming huddle circles, chanting about our mutual determination to not gain the freshmen fifteen. But walking across campus five times a day with thirty pounds of books on your back gets real old real fast. Who knows? The shuttle drivers could become your best friends. They’re usually pretty nice people when they don’t almost close the sliding door against your backpack on your way out.

5: Look pitiful in order to score rides

I don’t know about you, but at my university, all freshmen are required to park their cars at the bottom of the hill, near the entrance. Meanwhile, our dorms are up the giant, steep hill. And lemme tell ya, coming back to campus on a Sunday night and trying to walk up the dark hill while carrying your laundry and your books, isn’t the jolliest thing I’ve ever done. At times, upperclassmen are kind enough to offer rides in their snazzy vehicles that get to park wherever they choose. Yet in order to ensure a ride, I would recommend walking with a hunched back, drooping your shoulders, and dragging your feet. If possible, play the sad Charlie Brown theme as you walk.

6: Nap

Oh, did I mention napping? It’s worth repeating: Nap!

7: Get a Planner

Get ready, this is an actual piece of advice. Your phone won’t cut it. What if you lose it, or it dies at a crucial moment when you need a reminder? It’s time to go back to the primitive ages of pen and paper.

8: Find an Outlet to Keep Sane

I’m currently watching Parks and Rec for the second time whenever I need to wind down. And you know what? I appreciate it much more this time around. Sometimes, all you need is a laugh to remind that you are indeed a human, and not a studying robot. Go rest in a hammock, look at the stars, watch Netflix. Whatever your relaxation method is, allot a small amount of time for it every day.

9: Don’t, spend, your, money!

What’s a savings account? I don’t know anymore, cause it’s practically all gone *sobs*. The other day, I unashamedly washed out of my coffee cup with Sauve shampoo…listen, we didn’t have any dish soap, and I’m pretty sure it got the job done. See? Frugality encourages creativity.

10: And Finally…

Don’t forget to nap. 😉

I don’t want to be cheesy, but I do want to wish you gouda luck with the rest of your semester. We’re all in this together!

Written by Karoline

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