I’m reaching the end of my time in college and it’s got me all sentimental (and regretful). There are a number of things that I have learned during my time at college that I wish I’d known during first year.
The only valid excuse for not reading everything is that you didn’t have time, not that you found it boring, or that it wasn’t useful. Because there’s nothing scarier than trying to write an essay on something you studied a month ago, and you have no notes on the topic.
I wish I would have revisited everything I did a week after I did it, just as a recap. I tended to focus on what I was doing in the moment because it felt like the most important thing at the time. And it’s so frustrating not quite being able to remember something. So, revise. Even just for ten minutes.
Don’t spend all of your money on impulse.
I’ve bought so many things that I really don’t need. And if I’d saved that money, I could have gone on vacation or just added it to my savings. Save every last penny you can.
I just said that you should save all the money you can, but I think that food is one exception to that rule. Try and save money where you can, obviously, but don’t go for days and days without fresh vegetables because you’re saving money. Your mind, as well as your body, needs food.
Go and talk to professors in their student hours.
I used to find this so awkward. To be honest, I still do. But if you’re going to send them an email asking for clarification on a topic, consider maybe popping into their office when it’s open to students. And tell them if you’re struggling! If you don’t let them know, then they can’t help you.
Take hot drinks with you, to your lectures or to the library.
Don’t spend all your money in the library cafe. Bring a flask of tea, and loads of study snacks in a packed lunch box. Trust me on this.
Make time to meet up with friends you haven’t seen in ages.
Don’t wait for them to ask you. I make sure to socialize with my friends at least twice a week. And by socialize, I don’t mean getting blind drunk and going clubbing. Sit down and have lunch together. Chat. Get to know each other properly. Friendships formed over alcohol never last as long as friendships formed through actual conversation.
Do stuff that your college puts on for students.
Join societies. Get involved. College is for making memories, and it's not as fun if you don't have any to talk about years from now!
Travel around your college town.
If you’re college is on a closed campus, don’t let your life revolve around that one place. If you’ve traveled away from home to go to college, then make it worth your while! See the sights, be a tourist, get on a bus and go to a random town and buy ice cream.
This is the time. Dye your hair blue, join a weird and random society and take up a hobby you’d never dreamed of. If you don’t want to do certain things, then don’t judge other people for doing so.
Give yourself a day off per week.
When you’re at college and you’ve got tons of work, it’s tempting to just work constantly - or at least, to work every day, if not all the time. But it’s so much better for your mental state to take a day off to just relax.
Keep up with your chores.
When you’re stressed about an assignment, you don’t want to be also stressed about that pile of laundry accumulating on your floor. Keep your room tidy too - clear space, clear mind.
Be kind to everyone.
You’re going to meet a lot of people in college, some you’re going to hit it off with immediately. But there will be some who really rub you the wrong way. Don’t worry about it, it’s completely fine to not like someone. But don’t be mean to them. This isn’t high school, you’re all here to learn and there’s just no need to make them feel bad about themselves. It’s just petty and childish.
Think about the future.
I know that you’re completely wrapped up in your college life right now, but you’re going to have to venture out into the real world at some point. Do things that might help your future career: volunteer, get a job, join a sports club, make connections. College isn’t, sadly, forever.
There you have it! The advice that I would have given myself in the first year of college. Whether you’ve just started college, or you’re just about to leave, I hope this is useful to you.