12 Things I Wish I Knew Before Starting College

12 Things I Wish I Knew Before Starting College

The most important things you need to know to make the most of your college experience and succeed.

College will be filled with a rollercoaster of emotions. There is no avoiding that. However, don't worry, because there are plenty of life hacks and words of wisdom to get you through it. As you enter your freshman year, you will hear different advice from everyone on the best way to "do college," and it can become extremely overwhelming. This list is the best advice I have for anyone who wants to do well in college, based on my own experience. Enjoy.

1. Find a designated study spot

And make sure this spot is not also where you are used to eating or doing other fun activities. I know this sounds strange, but studies show that you can actually train your body to match certain locations with tasks (example: you may find yourself more hungry in the kitchen because that is where you are used to eating) This works, and it is actually something that I do! If you can make one spot specific for studying, your body will begin to recognize that and you will get more done.

2. Focus on time management

Don’t get me wrong, it is important to stay focused on your studies and make sure you are getting everything done, but you need to be able to gage and time manage so that you have a social environment too. It is salient for your sanity. Set aside an hour to study and go out after, one night every week. It is super important to get connected with other students and make friends. Does this mean going to every party and getting super hammered? No, definitely not. But going out every once in a while and meeting people is a good idea, and you will learn that in life, connections are everything—more to come on this one.

3. College is not always fun

There will definitely be nights that you consider dropping out and becoming a stripper (don’t even google their salary, it makes it more tempting) College isn’t easy, but that makes it all the more rewarding. You will have some of the most fun times of your life, but you will also be excessively stressed and overwhelmed sometimes too, and that is totally normal and OK. You will survive.

4. Two words: Stress Management

This is different for everyone, but you have to find a way that works to manage stress. Singing, going for a walk, playing a sport, drawing, whatever it is, make time for it, because taking a break from studying is just as important as the studying itself…research have actually showed that studying is most effective in shorter increments with breaks in-between. Treat yo-self.

5. Keep an open mind

Oh my gosh, this is so so so key to everything in life, especially when you enter college. You will learn so much if you are open to hearing everyone’s opinions and keeping your own opinions flexible. Everyone has things they feel very strongly about and definitely stay true to yourself, but also be open to hearing someone else’s side, everyone has a reason for believing what they believe, and gaining another perspective on anything is always beneficial, even when you don’t necessarily agree.

6. Take Risks

Join the club you have always been interested in. Play that intramural sport that you may not have the most skills in. The awesome thing about college is that you have the opportunity to completely recreate yourself (if you want!). It is not often in life that you have the chance to start over and be whoever you want to be, so do it right and take those chances, you won’t regret it.

7. Jump at opportunities

When your teacher mentions an internship or a fellow student offers to help you get connected to something that sounds fun, don’t brush it off or wait for them to keep pushing, because they most likely won’t. When an opportunity presents itself, be proactive and take it on, experience is the best way to learn, especially if he is cute.

8. Find the study technique that works best for you and stick with it

You can spend hours studying with others and still not get as much done as if you had studied the way that works for you. An example of this is how reading and highlighting is a good way for some people to study, but flash cards works much better for others (including me), so some people could memorize more information making flashcards for an hour than they could in four hours of reading and highlighting information, and vice versa.

9. Stop making excuses

This goes for everything. Don’t make excuses on why you didn’t do well on a test, why you can’t go to an event, or why you spent all night watching Netflix instead of sleeping. Sometimes you just decide to have the cake instead of fruit and you shouldn’t have to constantly justify yourself. Also, if you are unhappy about something in your life, making a change is going to be a lot more beneficial than making an excuse.

PS. Your teachers won't care why you were late for class, so just don't do it

10. Caffeine is your best friend

College is the first time that I have truly come to understand what exhaustion feels like. Caffeine has gotten me through numerous late nights, classes, and lectures. Now that you’re on a college budget, remember that you can save your Starbuck’s cup and refills are only 50 cents.

11. Connections are everything

Meet people, start conversations and don’t be afraid to ask questions, because knowledge is power, and forming relationships and connections with people can only help you in the future.

12. Have fun

Seriously, being happy is truly what life is all about. If you don’t like your major, change it. If you absolutely hate your school, switch. Everyone is different and everyone has different needs, college is your time to find yourself and to explore opportunity so make sure you make the most of it and have a fun ride.

Cover Image Credit: Sara Eigsti

Popular Right Now

So, You Want To Be A Nurse?

You're going to find that nursing isn't really about the medicine or the assessments. Being a nurse is so much more than anything that you can learn in school. Textbooks can't teach you compassion and no amount of lecture time will teach you what it truly means to be a nurse.


To the college freshman who just decided on nursing,

I know why you want to be a nurse.

Nurses are important. Nursing seems fun and exciting, and you don't think you'll ever be bored. The media glorifies navy blue scrubs and stethoscopes draped around your neck, and you can't go anywhere without hearing about the guaranteed job placement. You passed AP biology and can name every single bone in the human body. Blood, urine, feces, salvia -- you can handle all of it with a straight face. So, you think that's what being a nurse is all about, right? Wrong.

You can search but you won't find the true meaning of becoming a nurse until you are in the depths of nursing school and the only thing getting you through is knowing that in a few months, you'll be able to sign the letters "BSN" after your name...

You can know every nursing intervention, but you won't find the true meaning of nursing until you sit beside an elderly patient and know that nothing in this world can save her, and all there's left for you to do is hold her hand and keep her comfortable until she dies.

You'll hear that one of our biggest jobs is being an advocate for our patients, but you won't understand until one day, in the middle of your routine physical assessment, you find the hidden, multi-colored bruises on the 3-year-old that won't even look you in the eyes. Your heart will drop to your feet and you'll swear that you will not sleep until you know that he is safe.

You'll learn that we love people when they're vulnerable, but you won't learn that until you have to give a bed bath to the middle-aged man who just had a stroke and can't bathe himself. You'll try to hide how awkward you feel because you're young enough to be his child, but as you try to make him feel as comfortable as possible, you'll learn more about dignity at that moment than some people learn in an entire lifetime.

Every class will teach you about empathy, but you won't truly feel empathy until you have to care for your first prisoner in the hospital. The guards surrounding his room will scare the life out of you, and you'll spend your day knowing that he could've raped, murdered, or hurt people. But, you'll walk into that room, put your fears aside, and remind yourself that he is a human being still, and it's your job to care, regardless of what he did.

Each nurse you meet will beam with pride when they tell you that we've won "Most Trusted Profession" for seventeen years in a row, but you won't feel that trustworthy. In fact, you're going to feel like you know nothing sometimes. But when you have to hold the sobbing, single mother who just received a positive breast cancer diagnosis, you'll feel it. Amid her sobs of wondering what she will do with her kids and how she's ever going to pay for treatment, she will look at you like you have all of the answers that she needs, and you'll learn why we've won that award so many times.

You'll read on Facebook about the nurses who forget to eat and pee during their 12-hour shifts and swear that you won't forget about those things. But one day you'll leave the hospital after an entire shift of trying to get your dying patient to eat anything and you'll realize that you haven't had food since 6:30 A.M. and you, too, will be one of those nurses who put everything else above themselves.

Too often we think of nursing as the medicine and the procedures and the IV pumps. We think of the shots and the bedpans and the baths. We think all the lab values and the blood levels that we have to memorize. We think it's all about the organs and the diseases. We think of the hospitals and the weekends and the holidays that we have to miss.

But, you're going to find that nursing isn't really about the medicine or the assessments. Being a nurse is so much more than anything that you can learn in school. Textbooks can't teach you compassion, and no amount of lecture time will teach you what it truly means to be a nurse.

So, you think you want to be a nurse?

Go for it. Study. Cry. Learn everything. Stay up late. Miss out on things. Give it absolutely everything that you have.

Because I promise you that the decision to dedicate your life to saving others is worth every sleepless night, failed test, or bad day that you're going to encounter during these next four years. Just keep holding on.


The nursing student with just one year left.

Related Content

Connect with a generation
of new voices.

We are students, thinkers, influencers, and communities sharing our ideas with the world. Join our platform to create and discover content that actually matters to you.

Learn more Start Creating

To The High School Graduating Seniors

I know you're ready, but be ready.



I am not going to say anything about senioritis because I was ready to get out of there and I'm sure you are too; however, in your last months living at home you should take advantage of the luxuries you will not have in a college dorm. The part of college seen in movies is great, the rest of it is incredibly inconvenient. It is better to come to terms with this While you still have plenty of time to prepare and enjoy yourself.

Perhaps one of the most annoying examples is the shower. Enjoy your hot, barefoot showers now because soon enough you will have no water pressure and a drain clogged with other people's hair. Enjoy touching your feet to the floor in the shower and the bathroom because though it seems weird, it's a small thing taken away from you in college when you have to wear shoes everywhere.

Enjoy your last summer with your friends. After this summer, any free time you take is a sacrifice. For example, if you want to go home for the summer after your freshman year and be with your friends, you have to sacrifice an internship. If you sacrifice an internship, you risk falling behind on your resume, and so on. I'm not saying you can't do that, but it is not an easy choice anymore.

Get organized. If you're like me you probably got good grades in high school by relying on your own mind. You think I can remember what I have to do for tomorrow. In college, it is much more difficult to live by memory. There are classes that only meet once or twice a week and meeting and appointments in between that are impossible to mentally keep straight. If you do not yet have an organizational system that works for you, get one.

I do not mean to sound pessimistic about school. College is great and you will meet a lot of people and make a lot of memories that will stick with you for most of your life. I'm just saying be ready.

-A freshman drowning in work

Related Content

Facebook Comments