10 Things I've Learned In College

10 Things I've Learned In College

College counselors, teachers and your parents will try their best to prepare you, but the only way to learn is to experience it for yourself.
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The more I think about it, the harder it is to believe that, two weeks from now, I will have finished my first year of college. The changes that I knew I was going to be facing in life were incredibly daunting, but I came to learn that taking a leap and making a huge change in your life can actually be a good thing in the long run. College counselors, teachers and your parents will try their best to prepare you, but the only way to learn is to experience it for yourself. That being said, here are a few things that I have learned in my first year of college:

1. If someone asks how you are, tell them the truth

Nobody will look at you any differently if you complain to them about how overwhelmed you are. In fact, they’ll probably admire your honesty and openness. I never wanted to rant about life for fear of making myself even more frustrated and stressed than I already was. Now, if someone asks me how I am, I don’t sugarcoat things because I realize that we’ve all been there. Venting makes you feel a thousand times better.

2. Naps

Twenty minutes. That’s all it takes. Any longer and you feel like a sloth for the rest of the day.

3. Keep in touch

Call your friends from home. Yes, CALL. Even if you’ve never heard their voice over a phone before, do it. There’s nothing like a long talk with a close friend that’s going through the exact same transition that you are.

4. Treat yourself

Whether it’s with a really good dessert from the dining hall, a movie marathon or a walk downtown (when you really should be studying), do something to relax once in a while. Self-care is one of the most important things to do during your busy college life.

5. It doesn't mean I'm lonely

Don’t be embarrassed when your roommate brings a few friends by the room late at night, and you’re curled up in bed watching TV on your computer. I’m all about new experiences and friendships, but taking time to yourself is important. Also, I'd much rather have a couple close friends that understand my need for space than have superficial relationships with a ton of people.

6. Independence is a good thing

Yes, I know everyone says that they become more independent in college. Of course you have to learn how to do things without your parents or anyone you know being there to explain it to you. But learning how not to rely on those around you is one of the most important and challenging elements of life at college.

7. Empathize

College is full of people who have life stories completely different from yours. Empathizing is an important way to create connections with people. I’ve learned that sometimes this is hard to do, but you become a more open-minded and accepting person for trying.

8. Find your peak time

If you have a ton of work to do, plan the rest of the day around the few hours when you’re most productive. DO NOT waste this precious time.

9. Home is a feeling

I keep saying that I’m ready to go home. What I’ve learned is that you miss the day to day life with those you love more than your physical house. Now that it’s almost summer, I am looking forward to spending time with family most of all.

10. Starting is the hardest part

It will take forever to build up that dedication to start a daunting essay or project. However, once you get started, you get in the flow, and it becomes natural. You just have to begin.

I know that I am not alone in having realized these things, and I hope that whoever reads this finds some comfort in knowing they're not alone either. College is the beginning of a new chapter in your life, and while it may be scary, the lessons you learn outside of the classroom will undoubtedly be some of the most important ones that you learn in your whole life.

Cover Image Credit: Glimpses of Charleston

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To All Incoming Freshmen, When You Get To College, Please Don't Be THAT Freshman

I am pretty sure we all know who I'm talking about.

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As we are all counting down the days to return to campus, students are looking forward to meeting new people and reuniting with old friends. And then, there is the freshman.

We have all been there. The eagerness and excitement have been slowly building up through months of summer vacation, all waiting for this moment. I understand the anxiousness, enthusiasm, and insecurities. The opportunity to meet new people and explore a new area is very intriguing. But let's be real, you are here to make memories and get an education. So here are a few pieces of advice from a former college freshman.

1. Don't be that freshman who follows their significant other to college

This is the boy or girl who simply can not think for themselves. The 17-year-old puts their own personal goals and interests aside to sacrifice for a six-month high school relationship. This will more than likely end at an end of semester transfer after the relationship has been tested for a month or two in college life. So if you want to really enjoy your freshman year, make your own decisions and do what is best for you.

2. Don't be that freshman who lets their parents pick their major

"You are not going to school just to waste my money."

This is a statement you might have heard from your parents. As true as it might seem, this is definitely not a good way to start your college years. If you are not majoring in something you can see yourself doing, you are wasting your time. You can major in biology, go to medical school, and make the best grades. But if deep down you don't want to be a doctor, you will NOT end up being a good doctor. When it comes to picking your major, you really have to follow your heart.

3. Don't be that freshman who gets overwhelmed with the first taste of freedom

Yes. It is all very exciting. You don't have a curfew, you don't have rules, you don't have anyone constantly nagging you, but let's not get carried away. Don't be the freshman who gets a tattoo on the first night of living on your own. Don't be the freshman who tries to drink every liquor behind the bar. Don't be the freshman who gets caught up being someone that they aren't. My best advice would be to take things slow.

4. Don't be that freshman who starts school isolated in a relationship

I'm not telling you not to date anyone during your freshman year. I am saying to not cut yourself off from the rest of the world while you date someone. Your first year on campus is such an amazing opportunity to meet people, but people are constantly eager to start dating someone and then only spend time with that person.

Be the freshman who can manage time between friends and relationships.

5. Don't be that freshman who can't handle things on their own

It is your first year on your own. Yes, you still need help from your parents. But at this point, they should not be ordering your textbooks or buying your parking pass. If you need something for a club or for class, YOU should handle it. If you're having roommate problems, YOU should handle it, not your parents. This is the real world and college is a great time for you to start building up to be the person you want to be in the future, but you can't successfully do that if your parents still deal with every minor inconvenience for you.

6. Don't be that freshman who only talks to their high school friends

I know your high school was probably amazing, and you probably had the coolest people go there. However, I believe that college is a great time to be on your own and experience new things. Meeting new people and going to new places will allow you to grow into a more mature person. There is a way to balance meeting new friends and maintaining friendships with childhood friends, and I am sure you will find that balance.

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An Open Letter To My Youngest Self

From, the young adult finding comfort in the past while lost in the present.

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Dear future big person,

Speaking from experience, the world is a crazy place. It's sad, yet exciting to know what the future holds for you. The world has been taken over by devices and electronics most never thought were possible.

If you're wondering why I'm writing to you, it's because I care a lot more now than I did back when I was you. I'm your Marty McFly, here to tell you how to prepare for the future. (Don't ask me what that reference is –you figure it out!).

For starters, let's talk about this technology thing. Gameboys, Nintendo DS', Wiis, Xboxes –don't mess with them. Television is fine –if the people from the Cold War survived it, we can, too. I want you to spend time enjoying the real world, not the electronic, fake one.

I want you to go outside and sit in the grass, pick those dandelions and mash them up into "paint." Paint mom something nice and maybe go for a bike ride with dad. Catch lightning bugs at dusk and bottle them all up in a mason jar. Eventually, let them free, all together.

Your brother is gross and weird, but he actually turns out to be a pretty cool kid. You don't have to be all mushy with him, but be sure he knows you love him. After all, he is family.

Make friends in the neighborhood, even if they are boys. So what? Challenge them. Race them on your bike with awesome purple and white streamers drifting from the handlebars. Push hard, through the soles of your Sketchers covered feet.

Pick up a piece of chalk and create a world of your own world with 3,000 Toys R Us stores, one police station, and only a few stop signs. Create and color your own flowers, whether they actually exist or not. Let your imagination run wild!

Turn on the radio and dance like crazy! Scream the lyrics to Smashmouth's "All Star" and Gwen Stefani's "Sweet Escape." Change the station every now and then to hear something new; it's always interesting to see your reactions to these interesting creations.

I want you to wear what you feel like and don't care what the others say about you. If you want to wear your purple dress-up shoes with your matching purse and hat, then do it. If you want to wear a Hula skirt in the dead of winter, do it (but please bring some leggings so mom doesn't flip out). If you want to wear those bedazzled jeans, then rock 'em.

If you're wondering why I'm telling you to do these silly things, it's only because we lost these traits along the way. I don't want you to miss the experiences that only come from the natural world because you had your head stuck in a tablet; it will all pass you in the blink of an eye.

I don't want you to ever feel trapped inside your house, no matter the weather. There is always a way out.

Don't let other people stop you from getting something you want. Don't let them intimidate you or talk you out of something you are passionate about.

Your friends will be the people you escape to when the house seems inescapable. Treat them the way you would like to be treated.

Your imagination is one of the greatest gifts you'll ever have. It drives you –your hopes and dreams, your wishes in the fountain and your kisses to the dandelions. Don't ever stop chasing them.

Always, always do what you want to do. You sing karaoke to that super catchy song because you know you'll kill it. Wear what you want however you want because you know that you look good in some strange way. (As long as you're not naked, that is). Stubbornness is good.

Your family will always be your family. What they do affects you, and vice versa. Bring them good, positive news. They don't need any more trouble.

Stand up for yourself, for your friends and family, for your beliefs and wishes. Be proud of the work you do and the life you live. Many people around you wish they could have lived like you did.

Most importantly, do not let your past define your future. A lot of things will happen, some of which may or may not go horribly wrong. There is nothing you can do to stop these things, except hope. You can always change for the better as long as you don't look back. Be proud of your past, but be known for your future –whatever you want that to be.

Please, promise me these things. I can't stress enough how important it is for you to never lose these traits –hold them tightly and never release them. I can't tell you how this life is going to go, because that simply isn't the way this world works. Just breathe through it and listen to your gut –that's the future guiding you.

I, and many others, love you –your character, your curls, your studded jeans,your pink Power Ranger costume, your Hello Kitty backpack, and your goofy smile.

Don't ever forget that.

With love,

The Girl Who Is Lost And Trying To Turn Back Time.

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