College is a wonderful time in your life when you make life long friendships, start to establish who you are, and evaluate what really piques your interest. My undergrad career was some of the best times of my life; I gained lessons that I will carry with me forever. There are several things though, I kind of wish someone had told me prior to entering college.
1. You Don’t NEED to Get a Meal Plan
Meal plans in college are ridiculously expensive. Many schools don’t require students to get meal plans and often times even if you live on campus, you can opt out of getting one. The food on campus is super expensive; it’s cheaper to just go grocery shopping every week and an added bonus is you could avoid gaining that freshman 15.
2. College Isn’t the Time for Serious Relationships
I’m not saying you should go out there and “sow your royal oats” but college is definitely a time for exploration and really discovering who it is that you are and what you like. I think relationships during college are pretty restrictive. Aside from that, they rarely last past college [or freshman year]. Whether you had a boo before entering college (bad idea) or you met someone on campus, try not to limit yourself to one person. College is the time to date around and be a free-spirit…now I’m not saying go out there and sleep with everyone [in fact DON’T DO THAT] but college isn’t for monogamy. It will be some of the best times of your life so enjoy it accordingly.
3 …Don’t be licentious
Yes, college is indeed a time for fun and enjoyment but you don’t want a reputation for your sexcapades. Later on down the road, you may think of joining an organization on campus or a sorority/fraternity and you don’t want your late night antics to be the reason you don’t gain admission. Aside from that, it’s just not a good look. By all means enjoy yourself, party, drink, and meet new people but you don’t want the reputation as the campus ____________ (insert expletive for a promiscuous person).
4. A Refund Check Isn’t for Shopping Sprees
I remember the middle of January and the end of August when everyone was decked out in new clothes because so many people used the refund check they received from financial aid on expensive bags, clothes, and even cars. In case you forgot YOU HAVE TO PAY THAT MONEY BACK AT SOME POINT…and with interest! So use it wisely. Your refund check should be saved for necessary expenses.
5. Keep Good People Around You
This applies especially to females because in college you will get invited to a lot of parties and without a solid group of friends around you, you could find yourself in very compromising situations. I, myself, am a semi-reformed party girl and during college I put myself in a lot of terrible situations that could have ended badly had I not had a great group of friends around me.
6. Summer Time isn’t just for Relaxing
My first two summers of college, I went back home and spent the three months working. I enjoyed being around my family again and living the carefree [and rent-free] life. Part of me wishes I had utilized my summers better. Summer time is great for taking a few extra classes, because chances are you’re going to graduate in 4.5-5 years and the summer time is a great way to make up classes, improve your GPA, and increase the likelihood of actually graduating on time.
7. It’s not Always What you Know…
College is a great time to network with people and you have a vast array of resources. This is the perfect time to make lasting connections with people who could be your future employers (or employees). Join as many groups, clubs, and organizations as possible. It’s great to be involved on campus and while it’s important to stay focused on your studies, it’s networking is crucial.
8. Be Practical
While following your passion is what they teach us when we’re younger, you also have to be practical. As much as you may love creative writing, the odds of you getting a well-paid job in that particular field may be low so keep things like this in mind. You want your degree to eventually pay for itself and the whole point of college is to acquire the necessary skills for a specific field so be practical about your major. While you may love Carribean dance, majoring in business, finance, economics, or engineering could mean a promising career and more money to pay off your student loans.
9. Make Yourself Known
It is important for you to make yourself known in the sea of hundreds of students. You may be thinking about grad school and recommendations are important. If you think your professor would have difficulty identifying you out of the class, make your presence known. Sit in the front of the class, ask questions, and engage in class lectures. Seeing a student put forth effort makes you stand out in a professor’s mind and will definitely put you in the right place if you need a recommendation letter or job referral.
College was a crazy time full of drunken debauchery but I can honestly say I enjoyed (almost) every minute of it. Getting my Bachelors degree at the end of four long hard blood/tears/and sweat-filled years was the cherry on the cake. Enjoy your college experience because before you know it, it’ll be gone and you’ll be left yearning for a time machine to take you back to those days when life was virtually care-free.