As summer comes to a close and students head back to school, I do what I always do—reflect on how I have grown the past few months and think about what I would like to accomplish in the next year. This year, this process is a little different. This is the first year I am out in the so called ‘real world’ and not driving back to college come mid-August.
My college years taught me more outside the classroom than I could have imagined and forced me to grow profoundly in every aspect of my life—as a friend, peer, daughter, roommate, etcetera. So this year, I decided to enlist the help of some of the people who taught me via their friendship during my four years and ask them to share what they wish someone had told them before they started college.
Whether you are an incoming freshman, veteran senior or done with schooling entirely, anyone can appreciate this advice.
What do you wish someone had told you before you started college?
1. “Always make sure you respect yourself no matter what you’re doing. Never let your want for acceptance by anyone or any group cause you to stray from being a person you respect.”
2. “Put effort into sustaining relationships with friends. Everyone has their own schedule and everyone always has their own obligations. It’s worth it not to get caught up in your own life and just be lazy about hanging out with people that you don’t see on a regular basis.”
3. “Grades don’t matter as much as the experience you get.“
4. “I wish I would have known my own self worth.”
5. “Take the time to develop friendships with the people in your classes. Although it can be easy to separate school and social life, class is a great way to meet people with similar interests—who can ultimately be great sources of advice as you continue throughout college—assuming you stay on the same path. By the end of senior year, I loved that I had friends in my major/minor who I had taken courses with since freshmen year. We felt really comfortable working together and it made for a really nice class environment. Also, it's a great network to bounce ideas off of for courses to take and professors to get to know!”
6. “Ask professors to get coffee. While sometimes it seems professors are busy with grading and don't want to take the time to talk to you, they really love speaking with young, enthusiastic and patient students and there is A LOT to learn from them. Plus developing relationships with professors is always a good thing and can help you make decisions about internships and which courses to take.”
7. “Take your time settling in. Freshmen year I felt so intimidated by the other freshmen who immediately got involved in clubs and extracurriculars and research and all that. I felt like I wasn't taking advantage of my [college] experience. But by sophomore year I met more people and got more comfortable and really did my research about what I wanted to invest my time in and I ended up being so happy I did that. So I wish I had been more patient and not rushed committing to so many things! Adjusting is hard enough freshmen year.”
8. “I wish someone had told me that I don’t have to do what everyone else is doing and to do what I want to do. I wish I had pursued my interests from the start of my college career, rather than just doing what everyone else was doing. I did econ because it was ‘prestigious’ and didn’t want to do psych. But, in hindsight, I would’ve had a much better GPA and also would have been doing something I was interested in.”
9. “Take the opportunity to get to know everyone you can.”
10. “It’s OK to not be OK when you’re adjusting at school. So, be honest about how you’re feeling and take care of yourself because not every moment of [college] is going to be the best ever.”
11. “I wish someone would have told me to prioritize and balance school with social life. I feel like life [in college] can be very extreme one way or the other, so I wish someone would have told me to find my own balance and way of living life.”
12. “It’s OK to take your time and settle into doing things you like and finding people you want to hang out with. There’s no rush to make sure everything is perfect on day one. You just have to make sure you’re comfortable and happy with everything you’re doing.”
13. “The biggest thing that comes to mind is I wish someone had told me to relax. I came into college with the same mindset that I had in high school and that didn’t work for me in college. I had to learn to be alright with things that didn’t go the way I had thought they would and to realize it was actually really good for things to be out of my control.”