13 Things I Learned My First Semester in College

13 Things I Learned My First Semester in College

I made it, and I never thought I would.

I am not quite sure what I expected college to be like, nor do I even know if I had expectations, but so far it has exceeded anything I could've imagined. I have found that being away from home has amounted to me learning more than how to budget my time, wash my clothes, or join organizations, but rather a whole new set of lessons that will take me far in life.

1. Being yourself is so important

There are so many people here that have so many different interests, why not be yourself? Someone will like you.

2. No one cares.

Eat the Steak and shake, order a venti Frappuccino, hit the gym twice in one day, try kickboxing, wear mismatched socks, add a little skip in your step across campus. No one cares.

3. But then again, people do care.

You will find your people and they will care. Your friends will start to feel like family and you will spend so much time with them that they will begin to understand you and who you are as a person. They will be there for you when finals week feels like its out to get you, when your high school boyfriend breaks your heart, or when you just really need a good back rub. Some of these people will be lifelong friends, and you will quickly learn who they are. Don't let them go.

4. I need to learn how to cook.

Fresh fruit and veggies are a delicacy here on campus, well really, food that isn’t potatoes, bread, or mystery meat is hard to find. I have learned to ration the food my mom sends back to me after a long weekend. Thus, I have come to the conclusion that it I must learn to cook, or if nothing else, become a pro at warming up food. I have also learned that if any event on campus advertises free food, you go. No questions.

5. It is OK to be confused.

Everyone is. No one knows exactly what they are doing with their lives. It is normal to be unsure about your major, the classes you are taking, or the way you’re spending your time. I have found that most people are, to some degree. Sometimes it requires talking things out with your advisor, and sometimes it requires taking a step back in order to understand how to take a step forward. Be content with things that are out of your control.

6. Home isn't that far away.

Home will be as close or as far away as you make it. You could be forty minutes from home, but make it feel like four hours, likewise, you could be four hours away, but only feel forty minutes from home. It all amounts to how much effort and emphasis you put on your relationships back home. It’s easy to get caught up in college life and forget about life back yonder, but it’s always good to have that familiarity with your hometown.

7. Nothing is holding me back.

I would bet that if you looked up “college” in the thesaurus, a synonym would be “opportunities.” There are endless open doors just waiting for you to walk through on campus, and your success amounts to how many of them you take advantage of.

Sure, you can easily go through the motions, pass your classes, drink a lot, earn your degree, and call yourself a BGSU alum, but you can also develop relationships with your professors, join organizations, find your passions and pursue them, learn from the extra-curricular activities, study hard, and graduate from BGSU, leaving your legacy imprinted on the school. There are people here who dedicate their lives to helping college students succeed, they want to help. Let them!

8. Don't forget your faith.

So maybe your parents forced you to go to church in high school or maybe you loved your youth group like your second family, either way, college changes the way your schedule works and I found that my Jesus time didn’t take a priority.

I have since learned that taking time for Him in my schedule allows me to take a break from my stresses and focus on peace. It’s so important not to lose your faith in the hard times, He will give you peace.

9. If it's meant to be, it will be.

Looking back on this semester, this should really be number one. Some things are out of your control. Somethings you cannot stop from happening. It isn’t always easy to accept or understand, but time will show that it happened for a reason. This could be true for a past relationship, your major, or a job. If it’s meant to happen it will, and maybe it just isn’t the time, maybe I still have something to learn.

10. It's not what you're doing, it's who you're doing it with.

I have learned that doing something generally regarded as fun with some people that you don’t like all that much can be just mediocre, but just hanging out with your best friends will be so much better. Driving around with no destination and ending up at Lake Erie with your best friend and taco bell is going to make for a better evening than going out with some kids from your Econ 2020 class.

11. Learn to say no.

This one has been the hardest for me to learn, I like to help people and I don’t like to let people down. Whether it's saying no to attending another event because I need to study, or letting someone else take care of someone because I really just need to sleep, I have learned to say no. They will find another tutor, another ride, or someone else to attend their event. There’s nothing wrong with saying no.

12. It's OK to be alone.

So, this is what they meant by college is constantly social. You’re thrown into a world of community and constant social interaction. You have to share a room, share a bathroom, and share space… at all times. Now it’s not horrible, at times I quite like it. But the constant nonstop go, go, going starts to wear on you.

That’s the cool thing about college. It’s also OK to be alone. You can treat yourself to a coffee date, or sit alone in the library and it's not weird. Enjoy the alone time that you get, it's precious.

13. Pet the dogs and wave at the kids.

There is a total lack of cuteness in my life right now. Take pictures of your cousins at Thanksgiving to get you through, but always, ALWAYS stop to pet the dogs. It will make your day infinitely better.

Cover Image Credit: Erika glover

Popular Right Now

To High School Seniors In Their Last Semester

Senior year moves pretty fast; if you don't stop and look around once in a while, you could miss it.

Dammit, you made it. The final semester of your senior year. You’re at the top of the food chain of high school, and it feels so good. You’re probably praying this last semester flies by, that you get out of town as soon as possible.

At this point, you’re calling teachers by their first names, the entire staff knows you by name, and you’re walking around school standing tall, owning those hallways. You’re convinced you’re ready to leave and move on to the next chapter in your life.

You’ve already experienced your last football game, standing in the cold in the front row of the student section all season long, decked out in your school colors and cheering loud and proud. That is, until they lost, and you realized you will never have that experience again. Never again.

SEE ALSO: What I Wish I Knew As A Second-Semester High School Senior

You already had your last winter break. Preparing and celebrating the holidays with your family, ice skating and sledding with your best friends. Those quiet nights alone in your room watching Netflix, taking for granted your loved ones just a few rooms away. Never again.

If you’re an athlete, you may have already played in your last game or ran your last race. The crowd cheering, proudly wearing your school’s name across your chest, giving it your all. For some, it may be the end of your athletic career. Before you knew it, you were standing in an empty gym, staring up at the banners and thinking about the mark you left on your school, wondering where on earth the time went. Never again.

I’m telling you right now, you’re going to miss it all. Everything you’ve ever known. Those early mornings when you debate going to first hour because you really need those McDonald’s hash browns. The late nights driving home from practice, stopping for ice cream of course, ready for a late night of homework. Getting food on a whim with your friends. Endless fights with your siblings. Your favorite chips in the pantry. A fridge full of food. Coming home to and getting tackled by your dog. Driving around your hometown, passing the same sights you’ve seen every day for as long as you can remember. Hugs from your mom after a long day. Laughs with your dad. And that best friend of yours? You’re going to miss them more than anything. I’m telling you right now, nothing will ever be the same. Never again.

SEE ALSO: I'm The Girl That Enjoyed High School

Before you start packing your bags, slow down, take a deep breath, and look around. You’ve got it pretty good here. The end of your senior year can be the time of your life; it’s truly amazing. So go to the winter dance, go to Prom, spend Senior Skip Day with your classmates, go to every sporting event you can, while you still can. College is pretty great, but it’s the little things you’re gonna miss the most. Don’t take it for granted because soon, you’ll be standing in a packed gym in your cap and gown, wondering where the heck the time went. You’ve got a long, beautiful life ahead of you, full of joy but also full of challenges. You’re going to meet so many wonderful people, people who will treat you right and people who won’t.

So, take it all in. Be excited for the future and look forward to it, but be mindful of the present. You’ve got this.
Cover Image Credit: Hartford Courant

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

Competition Isn’t Real, So Stop Worrying About What You Think Is Your 'Competition'

When you stop worrying about being better than "your competition," you will succeed.


"What are your plans for after College?" is the one question every college student wishes they could never hear again. After hearing those seven short words, the body of the college student is flooded with waves of irritation, paranoia, and worry.

When you set all your triggered thoughts and anxieties aside and manage to hurl out an answer, you're probably told "That's nice, but how are you going to get a job? That field is so competitive." At this point, you are probably ready to excuse yourself from the conversation for a timely breakdown.

Throughout high school, conversations at family gatherings and holiday parties typically went through this vicious cycle.

A naive junior in high school who was quick to say his major was going to be Musical Theater in college was always infuriated by the response "You'll never find work. That field is so competitive."

After a while, I started to believe it and decided to look elsewhere for a career path. I considered nursing, to where I was told how competitive college nursing programs are, and how little students they accept. I figured I wouldn't stand a chance, so I kept looking.

I circled back to the theater and was reminded by everybody how rigorous the Musical Theater college audition process was, and how they only accept a handful of kids. Surely there were other students more capable than me, and I wasn't going to let the ridiculously annoying boastful comments of theater kids ruin my search for my path in life.

My Dad always reminds me how much money I could make pursuing business, but working a 9-5 desk job dealing with hot-headed businessmen being choked by the tightness of their neckties never appealed me.

I felt fatigued like I was being told that I need to pursue what other people want me to, instead of following my dreams.

At this time I was a senior in High School, and my CommonApp was filled with prospective schools that I might attend, but the "intended major" section part of each application wasn't filled.

The loud "you can't" and "you'll NEVER get work" boomed in my ear until I was convinced I couldn't follow my dreams of becoming an actor, so I caved and intended to pursue journalism. I was told by all my teachers I was a gifted writer, so I figured it would be worth a shot.

"You can always do theater on the side," is what I heard. Now in college pursuing journalism, a field I was told: "will be one I can actually get a job in," some professors tell me after graduation, I will be doing journalism "on the side" because of how "competitive" the field is.

All occupational fields are competitive, whether that be communications, business, nursing, etc. Here is one thing that I learned through this experience and many others…

You have no competition.

In the eyes of someone who is hiring for a job, they are going to pick whoever's work they feel best fits the position. This isn't the product of a cutthroat field, it's solely the product of your work fitting the part.

You can't mash two puzzle pieces together because you THINK it's what fits, whatever is meant for you will come to you. Your puzzle pieces will fit together naturally.

In the end, it will come together to form a beautiful picture.

As for me, I decided to tune out the comments about competitive fields. What used to consume me cannot phase me anymore.

I still intend to pursue my dreams of becoming a performer, and at every audition I will remind myself that it is not the field that is competitive, there is no competition. The performer sitting next to me at an open call is not my competition, but my inspiration to work hard to find the job that will best fit me.

In the words of Cinderella, "there is one thing, they can't order me to stop dreaming."

The reporter who grabs every single story shouldn't turn me into someone who viciously grabs every story they can to build their portfolio, it should make me look for stories I WANT to tell that will progress me as a writer. After all, I am still learning.

I learned that I shouldn't belittle other people that are deemed "my competition" to disorient them, giving me a better chance at getting a job. Kindness will be more rewarding than contributing to the vicious dog-eat-dog world.

"I'm not in competition with anyone except who I used to be, and everything I do now is just an evolved version of something I've done before" -Kali Uchis

Related Content

Facebook Comments