College is where you earn your degree, graduate, and get a job, right? Yes..but, there's a lot they don't tell you about what happens to you during those four years.
Here's what I wish they told me before I started at a 4-year university:
1. There are not many classes that help to nurture and craft your individualistic talents or hobbies.
You really need to seek out professors/mentors on your own who can help develop your talents and give you practical advice. Don’t allow the busyness of classes to deter you from doing what you truly love. Participate in extracurricular activities that you actually enjoy, not just because you want to fatten-up your resume. Trust me, you don’t want to look back and feel regret over not participating or doing something you loved.
They do not teach you that break ups are really common in college and that having rampant sex does not make you any happier, nor does it solve anything. In fact, multiple studies show that the more you engage in illicit activities, the less satisfied you are. They also don’t tell you that maintaining a relationship in college is time consuming, stressful, and many times dramatic. This is not to say you shouldn’t be in a relationship in college; however, it is something to keep in mind. It’s not going to all be a fairytale, which is why it is important to have good friends to make amazing memories with and to have for moral support.
3. Community college classes are not easier than state schools or private university classes.
Do not let anyone belittle you for choosing to go to a community college. Also, do not be fooled: community college courses are just as challenging as courses at any other college or university. Don’t underestimate the level or amount of work, and still try your best. Ultimately, it is the character that is developed in college that is far more important than the name of the college you graduate from.
4. Making friends in college is so much harder.
Treasure your childhood friends, because they are the ones who have seen it all. You will make great friends in college, but it’s a lot harder to maintain ongoing friendships because you don’t get to see them that often. Everyone is busy and everyone has a different schedule. Finding time to spend intentionally with others is something you are going to have to put effort into. To make lasting friendships, join good clubs and organizations where you can regularly meet up with people and do life with them. Also, don’t close yourself off to new possible relationships with people that seem really different from you. This is the time to learn how to socialize with people of different backgrounds and personalities. They could possibly become your best friend and change your life. Even if they don’t end up becoming a close friend, they still will have helped shape your life in some way. (Hint hint: your professors are some of the best people to become friends with. Most professors deeply care about their students and they want to see you do well, so developing relationships with them is a win-win).
5. Family is still important.
So many people go to college and forget all about their families back at home. Please don’t do this - your family has been there to support you and raise you your entire life. Without them, you most probably wouldn’t be where you are right now. When relationships fail, friends leave, and hard times come, it is your family that is still there to love you and support you. Make the conscious effort to not take your family for granted. Spend precious time with them because once you graduate and have a family of your own, making the time to see them will be even harder. Remind them with your words and actions that you love them and care about them.
6. Good grades DO NOT EQUAL a good life. Do not let grades define you.
When you look back on your life, you are not going to remember that one test you aced or that other exam you failed. You are going to remember the people and the moments that really made life meaningful, that made you laugh, and that made you a better person. You are going to reflect on what kind of person you were and the impact you made. Good grades will help you go further in life and can help develop good habits, but it won’t guarantee a good life. A good life is when one lives with a good character.
7. Most people end up graduating with degrees that they won't even end up using.
It doesn’t mean college is a waste of money, but it just means that the college experience you are paying for should be more than just the classes you are taking. So, don’t be surprised or disappointed if you cannot use your degree when you graduate. Even if your degree does not relate to your current job, college still has helped you prepare to critically think, problem-solve, socialize, and be independent.
8. Your personality and passions will change over the course of 4 years.
That’s not a bad thing! It just means that you should be open-minded to the possibility that you may live a life that you never anticipated before, but that’s okay!
9. Don’t let a set four-year plan define you because life happens.
If you need some time off to figure out what it is you really want, take it. If you want to study abroad, go. If you get sick and can’t be in class, don’t beat yourself up over it. Don’t allow society to pressure you into feeling you are falling behind. Be realistic about the goals you set though, but know that life takes unexpected turns and just embrace it! These turns may not be what you’d like, but they may just take you somewhere better.
10. You can study all you want, but if the stress of college makes you forget to properly eat and sleep, there are consequences.
This is something very basic, but something so important that we all tend to neglect. We all think we are young and superhuman, but the truth is, even one all-night has detrimental effects on your mental and physical well-being. These all add up and you’ll seriously regret it when your body finally caves in to all the stress you’ve placed on it. If you can’t handle your course work or just life in general, talk to people who care about you. Don’t try to handle life on your own!