As I get ready to start my senior year of college, I’ve been reflecting on my past three years in undergrad. While I’ve had an amazing experience and a lot of great learning opportunities, there are things that I wish I would have known before I started my freshman year. Here are 45 things you should know if you're starting college this fall:
1. Academic advisors don’t know everything, and sometimes they give bad advice.
2. However, academic advisors can also be a great resource if you need some guidance.
Just don’t automatically accept everything they tell you. Do your own research as well.
3. Get to know your professors.
When you need letters of recommendation, you’ll be glad you took the time to go to office hours and/or talk to the professor before/after class.
4. Don’t worry if you don’t know what you want to do yet.
You have time to figure it out through classes, internships, networking, and different events on campus.
5. Even if you’re shy, networking is crucial.
Challenge yourself to get out of your comfort zone and meet people. Ask for business cards and send follow-up emails and/or thank you cards.
6. If you’re struggling with your mental health, don’t be afraid to get help.
College counseling centers can be a great resource.
7. Join clubs and student organizations to make friends and meet like-minded people.
8. Know your worth and try not to spend time dating people who don’t deserve you.
9. Make your college experience what YOU want it to be, not what anyone else wants it to be.
10. Have fun!
Academics are important, but take time to de-stress and have a good time.
11. Go to football games, especially if you go to a big football school.
Or go to the games of whatever sport is big at your university.
12. Also, go to tailgates.
13. Even if you aren’t a party person, check out at least one college party before you graduate.
14. Don’t be afraid to date people who don’t necessarily fit into your “type.”
15. Talk to your roommate(s) at the beginning of the year about rules, expectations, and responsibilities.
16. Call your parents!
They’ll miss you and often have great advice to offer.
17. Stay in touch with your siblings, too.
18. Consider Greek life.
Whether you decide it’s for you or not doesn’t matter, but you’ll be glad that you at least thought about it. It can provide great networking opportunities, chances to meet new people, a strong support system, a fun social life, and a home away from home.
19. Start looking for, applying to, and doing internships early.
Don’t wait until your junior or senior year. If you start as a freshman, you’ll likely be ahead of the game.
20. If you decide you want to go to graduate school, start preparing for and thinking about your applications early.
Do things now that will pay off later.
21. If you have to take a class that doesn’t count for your major, you don’t think you’ll do well in it, and you can take it pass/no pass, take it pass/no pass.
22. Don’t be afraid to let go of people who are making your life more difficult and/or don’t contribute anything positive to your life.
23. Find time to do the things you love, whether that’s a hobby, or just spending time with friends and family.
24. Try to find time to work out.
Even though it can be difficult, it has so many benefits.
25. Don’t completely neglect other areas of your life in favor of academics.
26. Use coupons and sign up for reward programs at stores like Ralphs, CVS, and Starbucks to save money.
27. Apply for things you may not think you’re qualified for-you never know if you’ll get it or not!
28. Apply for as many scholarships as you can to avoid taking out as much money in student loans.
Your school likely has some great ones.
29. When deciding on which school to attend, figure out what factors and qualities are most important to you.
For one person, it may be better to go to a school that’s not as highly-ranked if they get a scholarship. For another person, it may be better to go to a top university that provides amazing connections even if they'll have to take out more money in student loans.
30. Be smart about your finances.
Don't waste money, but also don't be afraid to spend money on things like concerts, football games, or spring break trips.
31. You’ll likely never be less busy than you are now, until maybe retirement, so enjoy college while it lasts and take time to have amazing experiences.
32. Know thyself.
If you can avoid it, don’t take morning classes if you aren’t a morning person, and don’t take night classes if you like going to bed early.
33. Pick the schedule that works best for you.
Whether you’d rather have a few classes every day, or fit all of your classes into two or three days, do what fits your lifestyle.
34. Try to take time to intern during the school year, not just during the summer.
The connections and experience will be so helpful when it comes time to apply for jobs or graduate school.
35. Go to class and take notes.
It’ll most likely pay off later, even if it’s difficult to find motivation to get out of bed sometimes.
36. Make friends in your classes or take classes with friends.
It’ll be helpful to have someone to text when you have questions about the homework, need the notes, or are looking for someone to study with.
37. Figure out what study style works best for you and stick to it.
38. Try not to wait until the last minute.
It really does make life a lot harder.
39. Take advantage of the different speaker events, concerts, and performances that your school offers.
40. Even though it can be easy to get wrapped up in your own life, be there for your friends when they need you, and check in every so often.
They’ll probably do the same for you.
41. Sometimes you just need to cry it out, and that’s OK.
42. If you can afford it, buy your own printer.
Campus printers can be way too unreliable and inconvenient.
43. Try to stick to a consistent sleep schedule and get enough sleep.
Also, maintain a relatively healthy diet.
44. College is not going to be easy.
Make sure you’re putting in the work needed to succeed.