It’s just about that time of year again when people have started or are starting their first year of college or even going back for the semester to study. Oh, how I miss the endless nights dedicated to studying and overdosing on overly expensive caffeine from the campus Starbucks. Note my sarcasm, but don’t get me wrong… There are times when I do miss being a student.
I thrive off learning and new experiences, so now that I’m thrown into the “real world” I have to make the most of what is in front of me or create my own opportunities. Also note that yes, that is my messy desk with all of my necessities – my laptop (inspirational desktop, I might add), notebook with my favorite Avatar Aang on it, and of course my source of caffeine (basically my life in a nutshell). I’ve been out of college over a year now and although I loved everything about it, there are some things I wish I knew before going in so I could have taken full advantage of the experience.
- Change is Bound to Happen: You are obviously not the same person you were in high school, and though you may have been an all around A+ student, that will change. You’re there along with the other A+ high school students and it’s basically a blank slate when you enter college. When it came down to my “plan” I thought I would transfer halfway through but I continued on and found my ultimate love for the study of Communication. Going into college I thought I would major in Philosophy or Psychology, but through a lot of trail and tribulation, I ended up where I was supposed to be and I couldn’t be happier. Accept changes that occur, it’ll only help you determine who you are.
- Never Underestimate the Power of Extra Credit: This one was inspired by one of my good friends, Karla. I know the feeling all to well when you think you have a high or decent grade in the class so you don’t “need” to do extra credit, but one fluke on an exam and you’re done. Extra credit always seems daunting just because it is extra work, but it will always be worth it in the end – it’s there to help you, not hurt you!
- It’s Okay to Not be Okay: The transition from high school to college is a big one. Whether you’re studying at a community college or university, it’s really all about adjusting to what is unfamiliar to you. With the change of having a steady straight six hours of class with the same instructors each year to having 3 hour breaks in between classes and staggered days, it’s going to be tough. It’s okay if you’re not okay, it will take time. Just know you aren’t alone in feeling this way. I was lucky enough to have a great support system but at the same time I was thrown into the world I had no idea about and I was still nervous about everything.
- You Find Your True Friends in Due Time: I’m sure a lot of us imagine our HS BFFS to be there forever and ever, but let’s be real. You lose touch with some people, you connect with other people, you grow, change and ultimately find out who your real friends are. Even when you make friends in your first semester in your classes, you may see them again the next semester and it’ll be like you don’t even know each other. Oh, that cycle never ends! It’s something that will take adjusting to, but if you want your friends around be sure to maximize your efforts and they are doing the same.
- Get Involved: Make friends! This is your time to explore and meet new people! You can get involved by joining a sorority, a club of your interests, attending school events, and even creating or being part of a study group. College is no time for you to be shy. By sharing experiences through getting involved, it’ll create those relationships you need to help survive the daunting endless hours of studying. Trust me, I was a hermit for a while and I was just that – a hermit! No one likes to talk to hermits.
- Find an Opportunity that You May Never Get Again: Opportunities will present themselves and you should take advantage of them! One I wish I did was study abroad. Come on people, who doesn’t want to study abroad!? This is an opportunity of a lifetime for you to explore a whole different culture and immerse yourself in a life changing journey – I make it sound dramatic, but I feel like I missed out on this one. Definitely take advantage of the programs your school offers!
- Time Will Fly By: If you thought High School flew by, boy, wait until you’re in college! Semesters went by in a blink of an eye, and next thing you knew I was a Sophmore, then a Junior, then a Senior, then I graduated! It’s vital you make the most of your years in college, you’re only young once and you should take advantage of every opportunity that comes your way that will benefit you and your journey. It’s easy to get lost in studying during those endless days and nights, forgetting about your significant other or your friends. Then again it’s easy to get lost with socializing and forgetting about studying, so find a good balance that works for you!
- Connect with Your Instructors: Your instructors are there as resources. Utilize them! Aside from being just teachers, they are there to help. Visit them during their office hours – for extra help, answers to your question or even just to chat. Your instructors have been in your position before and they act as a source of guidance as well. Another reason to connect with them is they become great references to use when applying for jobs post graduation. It’s great to form relationships with instructors even if it’s just through Linked In or through Email, let yourself be remembered.
- Prioritize and Don’t Lose Sight of Your Goals: Know why you are in college. Though this is a time for partying and finding yourself, never lose sight of your true purpose – to get an education! Drinking and partying are bound to happen, but don’t let that define who you are. This goes with relationships as well – the hookup lifestyle you see in movies is so real in college, it’s ridiculous. Don’t let that get in your way. Shine through your work and prioritize your social and school life. I’ve mentioned this earlier… There is a time for everything, but make sure what you do is best for you.
- Make Mistakes and Undergo Challenges: College isn’t easy. If it was, everyone would go. This is a time where you make mistakes and learn from them. I’ve made the mistake of failing a class and having to wait another year to make up for it. I’ve learned the hard way not to slack off, but it helped me in keeping my goals in mind. It was a challenging experience overall, but I had fun and I learned so much both through my education and social life. If you don’t put yourself out there to fail, you won’t succeed. You have to learn from taking chances – whether it’s switching up your major or joining a club, do things you won’t normally do that will help you grow! It’ll all be worth it.
Looking back at it, these are things I wish I applied more to my college career. I hope this can help some of you entering or going back to college. It’s a learning and growing experience, so definitely take advantage of it! And most of all, have fun!
So tell me, is there anything you wish you knew before you underwent any big change – school, moving out, going abroad? I’d love to know!