First of all, I love college- and more importantly- I love the University of Oklahoma. I would not change my position and I firmly believe I am in the right place. I feel like this list is probably applicable to other colleges, but since I am not currently and have not ever attended another university, I concede that this list may be biased. Regardless, I think these things are important to know and understand, especially if you are about to apply to a college in the near future!
1. College is better than high school… sometimes.
For the vast majority of subjects, I think college beats out high school by a mile. College is much more diverse, offers more opportunities for students to get involved or grow, and what better way to experience college firsthand than live in the dorms? That's definitely an experience for everyone to partake in. I also think that academically, college is better than high school. What I mean by this, is that classes use their content much more efficiently and there is a greater variety of classes that pertain to what you need to know. For me, I think college is much easier than high school. High school taught me that professors were strict, offered no extra credit, and were not lenient at all in expectations. What I've experienced has been quite the opposite! God bless the professors that give out slides and study guides! But, I do miss the consistency of classmates. You get to know someone for the sake of a class participation grade and then they peace out after four-and-a-half months. Nothing brings people together like struggling to study for the SAT for a year.
2. College challenges what you believe.
For those who come from a religious background, prepare to step foot outside your bubble. Again, this experience may be unique to some, but I know that I grew up in a conservative, Christian town that rarely required me to defend what I believe and challenged my activity. I have met countless students who grew up with spiritual backgrounds and lost that belief in college due to time and lack of accountability from family. For some, this may be a good thing. This is a time for you to shape and explore what to believe and to strengthen or weaken those ties. It was very important to me that I do not lose the passion and fervor in which I pursued God, and with the diversity on campus, I took a great look at the fundamentals of what I knew to be right.
3. Everything isn't figured out in the first year.
Although it seems like a lot of things have fallen quite nicely into place during my freshman year, there are still a lot of things I have yet to figure out. I've found a great group of friends that I hope continues to grow until graduation, I've gotten involved with extracurriculars and navigated my way successfully through our busy campus for two semesters. I've learned how to be productive and responsible, and how to keep a small dorm room germ-free. Despite all that I've learned thus far, I know that I still have some areas that I need to grow in. Keeping my eyes up and towards the future is a huge thing; internships and job opportunities are just around the corner so keeping those things in the back of my mind while juggling my personal and spiritual life is definitely going to take some time, probably quite a few years after I graduate, even.
4. Make sure you're in college for the right reasons.
This is applicable to some, not all. As a Christian, my main goal for being in college is to further the ministry and share the gospel of Jesus Christ. Making disciples and bearing spiritual fruit is my priority, but that doesn't mean that academics aren't important to me. College is the best field to begin evangelizing, or to continue to evangelize. Aside from religion, there are other ways you can be in college for the wrong reasons. Ladies, if you are in college to get your "MRS" degree (get it?) you need to look somewhere else. Trust me. The same concept applies to young men too. Don't take education (and the expensive fees that accompany it) for granted.
5. Stay out of the bike lanes.
Please just do us all a favor... the paint lines are there for a reason.