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It’s senior year. I’ve been through a lot over my college years. Yet here are the 25 things I wish I knew before college.
College has been a whirlwind for sure. I wouldn’t want to change it for anything, but there were A LOT of things I have to learn. College is a privilege that some people wish they could have but can’t. Going to college is also a huge step in students’ lives.
There are ups and downs but college is fun. We are offered so many opportunities by attending university.
There are so many things I wish I knew before going to college, but I tried to wrap the top 21 in this post!
25 Things I Wish I Knew Before College:
1. These are not going to be the best 4 years of your life.
You might have heard someone say: “College is going to be the best 4 years of your life.”
I got to say that they are wrong! You have a long life ahead of you. College is 3-5 years out of your life. Sure, enjoy your college years, but do not feel that you need to have this picture-perfect college experience.
2. People are temporary.
The people you meet during tours, orientation, and the first week and even semester will not be there for the rest of your college career. However, there are people who will get along with that you meet during your first months of college. Unlike high school, most people you meet, you won’t see again, especially if you are going to a large school. But you will meet tons of people that you can get to know!
3. Everything is expensive.
From tuition, books, living area, even to food in the student union, it’s expensive. We no longer have our parents to pay for this (unless you are one of the lucky few), and we have to learn how to budget and manage money. It is going to be a challenge to save money working at on-campus jobs and for some internships. I recommend having a main job and a side hustle.
Throughout my years, I sold any old clothes on Poshmark that I didn’t use. I made a couple of hundred dollars overall, but I also now write on the side for my school’s newspaper. I also started blogging to earn extra money.
Unfortunately, no matter what you will spend money but there are ways to make money. You have to really learn how to take care of your finances here and save money.
4. Don’t compare yourself to anyone else.
Comparison steals the joy out of everything. We are all on our own journeys. Not to sound like a Pinterest quotes board but you shouldn’t compare your life to another else’s.
College really showed me how much I compared myself to other people. It prevented me from joining clubs, making friends, and doing so many things. I also allowed my insecurities to take over relationships.
Whether it is grades, looks, or overall life, you have to remember that you are getting a preview of everyone’s life. You don’t know what is going on outside of class, parties, or meetings. No college student has their life together. This is something I truly wish I knew before college.
5. You don’t have to prove anything to anyone.
It took until my senior year to realize this. During college, I always compared myself to other people who I shouldn’t have compared myself to. I wanted to impress people.
You are in college to learn. You do not need to prove anything to anyone. Do what you want and don’t worry about anyone else’s opinion.
6. Stop buying all that coffee from Starbucks.
Starbucks is so expensive. It’s cool to have a drink like every now and then. But if you are spending $5-7 dollars a day on coffee, then you need to stop.
One thing I wish I knew before I started college was that I didn’t need to buy coffee to get a caffeine boost. Besides, what I was ordering, a frappuccino wasn’t giving me that much energy. It was mostly sugar.
Instead, find a tea that has caffeine, such as black tea. Or you can purchase a coffee machine and make it yourself at home. I recommend this coffee pot from Amazon. It’s simple and allows me to make iced coffee.
7. Apply to internships, jobs, scholarships even if you don’t fit the requirements perfectly.
Career and job wise, I wish I would have applied to jobs, such as writing for the school’s newspaper or random marketing jobs on campus my freshman year. I didn’t know that internships are MEANT to teach you how to do the job. Having my job my freshman year would have been a nice thing to do instead of watching countless YouTube videos.
Also, apply for scholarships even if you don’t qualify because you never know. I applied for my study abroad scholarship despite my trip not fitting in with the guidelines. I do not get it at first. But after a week or two, someone else dropped out of their program and I was the next student in line for the scholarship!
You should always apply for jobs, scholarships, and internships because you never know if you actually might get it.
8. Don’t allow people to take your power.
You need to learn that you are worthy and a powerful person. You made it into college! That’s a HUGE ACCOMPLISHMENT! I wish I wouldn’t have allowed random people or even classmates in peer review to get to me. You are not meant for everyone and you are capable of doing whatever you put your mind to.
9. Make a studying habit.
Each semester, you should make a study habit and routine. It’s easier said than done. Find out when you work the best and most effective. Also, find a secret study spot where you can get into the zone!
10. Study abroad earlier!
Since I couldn’t go to France my senior year due to the pandemic, I wished I would have studied abroad my freshmen year. Honestly, I didn’t think I would going to be able to pay for it and didn’t seek out information about how to get a scholarship. I was so fixed on study abroad later on in my college career and listened to too many people who told me that studying abroad was a waste of time.
You should look into how you could study abroad (even though this year might be another year of restricted travel). Even if the traveling is within your country, go out and study in a different place.
11. Student loans are not anything to joke around with.
Seriously, do not be naive and think that you’ll just pay it off and take out tons of loans. I have read so many horror student debt stories. Student loans are treated differently from other loans. It’s a complex issue. We are also so young when are asked to take out thousands of dollars.
DO NOT BELIEVE THAT YOU’LL JUST BE PAYING FOR IT FOREVER AND NEED TO TAKE OUT AS MUCH AS YOU WANT.
I went into college with that mentality thanks to my high school friends who had no experience in loans either. Become financially stable and learn about personal finance.
Compared to other students, I didn’t have to take out much money (less than $4,000) thanks to scholarships and grants, and working.
12. Get a job freshman year.
Like I mentioned earlier, I wish I knew before going to college is that I should have a small job. My family did not want me to work during my first semester because I was adjusting to college and at the time had major stress issues. But when my first loan money ran out…I needed a job.
I wish I would have worked at a simple job such as a desk assistant or for the school’s media team. I also had the chance to work on some amazing projects and write for outlets by just working on campus. You should try to get a simple job that you can handle your first year to save money.
13. Nothing is as scary as you think.
Again, I keep reiterating that I wish I would have done more, but it’s one thing about college you should consider. Get out of your comfort zone. Join different organizations (I might have joined a sorority or spend a year in Spain if I wasn’t so chicken).
You can not predict the future. Fear is only in your mind. Go out there and use your instinct. Be safe. But try new things.
14. Figure out what your major is ASAP.
One piece of advice I usually give high school students is that they should have a decent idea of what area they want to major in. Your first year is when you should experiment in different areas, which most college’s curriculum does already.
Ask around and figure out what you want to do. Research the job market and if jobs in that area are growing or not.
15. Use as many student discounts as possible.
Student discounts are highly underrated. Many students doubt that places will give them a discount, but college towns tend to have tons of places that do offer a discount. Search for any program, software, class, or store that offers student discounts! You never know what you might find.
I personally recommend trying to get everything before graduating to save money!
16. Everyone’s social media is a virtual reality.
One of my biggest lessons in college was learning how fake a lot of students’ lives are online. I was aware of Photoshop and Facetune. That didn’t bother me, but what did bother me is how everyone THAT I KNEW was posting selfies with friends, when they eating out, going to parties while I was in my dorm.
Ironically, I work in social media and know how long it takes for me just to post a photo at work of merchandise! Social media isn’t that real. People are not posting when they are crying while cramming, throwing up at a party, or relaxing. We all want to stunt a little and impress people.
I recommend going through a social media detox every few weeks (especially during finals and midterms), don’t place your whole worth on social media, and listen to Frank Ocean’s “Facebook Story.”
Here I’ll link it for you:
17. Hang out with people more and invite people over to hang out more.
What I wish I knew before college is that relationships are no longer made by taking the same classes with the same people. I have to make an effort with people to become a friend. It’s still a challenge for me. But people in college are always looking to hang out with others and have fun. Be outgoing and invite others over!
18. Don’t get a credit card…yet.
Once again, become financially literate and know how money works. A credit card IS NOT UNLIMITED MONEY. You still have to pay for that stuff! Do not be like me with almost $3,000 of debt from shopping and swiping that card for everything.
Interest on credit cards is high af. Do research on credit cards before signing up for one.
Sure, get one to build credit. Spend it on things you usually pay for, such as gas, groceries, monthly bills.
19. Losing sleep is relatable, but not ideal.
Get your rest. So many people my freshman year bragged how they only got 3 hours of sleep because they had homework but went clubbing instead. Things go downhill quickly if you are not well-rested.
Form a sleep schedule and stick to it!
20. Asking for help is not a sign of weakness.
I was always embarrassed to ask a question in class. But the professor’s job is to teach you and make sure you are educated on this subject. The question you want to ask might be the one that everyone had on their mind!
21. Do laundry on a specific day,
Especially one where people aren’t in the laundry room. Avoid Sundays or even Saturdays. Everyone’s doing laundry and you will get your close toss out of a washer.
22. Don’t buy white sheets.
I don’t care how aesthetic it looks. If you going to get white sheets for your dorm, shower before you sleep on them and don’t eat on them.
I learned the hard way in my freshman year. After a long day, I would hop in my bed after walking all the way to the student union in the humid, hot sun, and eat Chick-fil-a. And I would spill so much on it thinking I’d be able to get dried Chick-fil-a sauce off of in on wash day. It was gross after a week because I’d avoid washing clothes on the weekend when EVERYONE is washing their stuff.
I was a mess. But don’t be like, please. I no longer eat in my bed without napkins that much because of those white sheets.
23. Last-minute is NOT a habit to form.
Do your homework ahead of time and when you are in a productive mood. If you finish an assignment, but are wide awake and don’t have anything to do, spend an extra 15 minutes reading a chapter or getting ahead on a project.
Waiting until the last minute is not a good habit to form.
24. YOU ARE NOT YOUR GRADES.
This is kind of controversial because of graduate, law, and medical school. But your grades do not make up your whole self-worth. It’s nice to aim for straight A’s but remember that your well-being and mental health should come before your grades.
25. Everything is going to work out.
It may seem like the end of the world when you fail a test, get your heart broken, lose contact with a friend, or hate all your classes, or become homesick, but things will work out. There are so many paths to get where you want to go. College might not even be for you right now. You might take six years to graduate.
But at the end of the day, things will be okay.
This blog post was all 25 things I wish I knew before college.
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