College is an extremely exciting time in a young adults life. You get the chance to earn a postsecondary education and it is during these years that you have the time to really explore who you are. However, like all things in life practice makes perfect, and sometimes (more often than not) you don’t always get everything right on the first try. If first semester didn’t go as smoothly as planned don’t worry that was only 1/8th of your entire college career, even if it was your 7th college semester you still have one last shot to get it right! Here are a few things I wish I knew when I started college.
1. Drop your high school mentality
College is absolutely nothing like high school, if only we knew that as freshmen, we would have been miles ahead! You will lose touch with some of your high school friends but that is okay. Use this opportunity as a fresh start to form new friendships with new people – remember that everyone you meet has the potential to be a helpful contact in the future (or your future bridesmaid/groomsman)! Embracing school spirit and getting involved on campus is a once in a life time opportunity because after college you will never be apart of such a tight knit community. I wish I knew from day one to ditch my black and white high school mentality because than I would’ve realized earlier that the things that use to be important like name brands and what parties you were invited to don’t define you in college. College is a fresh start from high school so we should all embrace that.
2. Learn To Prioritize
When you enter college, the freedom to do your schoolwork when YOU decide is beyond liberating. But sooner or later you realize that not going to lectures for the majority of semester or cramming 12 weeks of readings the night before your exam won’t cut it. There are going to be weeks when it seems as though you have a million things due and this can feel impossibly overwhelming. The number one thing you must learn to do in college is to prioritize. Develop new study habits such as handwriting your lecture notes, or rewarding yourself with candy (my personal favorite), ASAP that work for you to help you prosper in your academic career.
3. Classes get better after the first year
A lot of first year classes are very bleak and boring but don’t worry you’re not alone in suffering through these classes, unfortunately everyone has to take them. After you make it through these mandatory courses (alive) you get to select more specific subjects based around your personal interests. So don’t panic and think that you have picked the wrong major based on the course content of the classes you are required to take in first year. Stick out the hours you spend earning those bland credits and you’ll be in for a whole new world of academia!
4. Secure a part time job
A lot of people (myself included) think that having a part time job will water down your college experience by taking up too much time – this is rarely the case. You have more free time in college than you’ll ever have again (try to avoid the real world as long as possible!). Learning to manage this time and your money are both crucial for college students and having a part time job can help you with both. You will need the money after you have spent TONS of it at the bar or on extracurricular activities (such as alcohol). Having that extra cash in your bank account added by your paycheck can really make or break your weekend!
5. Drink with people you trust
Being a student in college is usually accompanied by some pretty questionable choices regarding the consumption of alcohol. This is normal, you have to learn somehow and if not now then when (because it’s definitely not acceptable when you’re in your 30’s)? No matter what year you’re in, it’s important to remember to surround yourself with people you trust when you plan on drinking. You want to ensure that someone has your back, especially when alcohol is involved and you potentially forget your way home.
*Sidenote: Have your phone charged because trust me, no one wants to look after a drunk fool with no phone!
6. Avoid the freshman 15
It’s easy to joke about gaining the freshman 15 but for many first years this joke becomes a reality and that’s not so funny. You spend more time sitting around studying in college than you previously have, many drink more alcohol than they have in the past (which often leads to late night eating), and you have a meal plan at your disposal. These factors coupled with all of the other changes you experience make weight gain almost inevitable. Use some of your free time to work out; the gym on campus is free and is your friend. Don’t eat just because you have a meal plan, eat when you’re hungry and try to remember that just because the dining hall provides unlimited amounts of ice cream does not mean you are required to utilize these services everyday!
7. Texting DOESN’T = Dating
In today’s hookup culture it is often extremely difficult to define your relationship status, the whole “what are we,” conundrum is very real in college. Let me help you out; just because someone texts you “sup 2nite” at 1am on a Saturday, does by no means insinuate that you are in a monogamous relationship! On the contrary, it is likely that this romeo of yours is texting multiple people asking them exactly the same thing. So, remember that not everyone you hook up with in college is going to be “the one,” set standards for what you want out of your romantic life and stick to them.
8. Have the time of your life
As cheesy as it sounds remembering to have fun is probably the most essential part of the entire college experience. Go to class and study hard but remember not to take yourself too seriously – whether you get a 99 or a 76 percent on your exam you’re going to graduate with a degree! Although college can be stressful at times remember to appreciate the student lifestyle (like taking afternoon naps on a Wednesday and going out Tuesday-Saturday) while it lasts because before you know it you’ll be entering the real world where having a 9-5 job is considered lucky.
It’s too bad I didn’t know all this my freshman year, but in the words of Alanis Morissette: you live, you learn. So learn from all your crazy experiences and try to perfect each moment of college you have left. To the high school seniors who are reading this, live by these suggestions you will be way ahead of everyone else! To all current college students, hopefully you still have time to get your shit together, and to all post-grads, I’m sorry that you are in the real world already (really, I truly am because working a 9-5 sounds like my nightmare).