Wednesday, September 21, 2016

10 Things I Wish I Knew in College: As Told By A College Grad

 photo What I wish i knew when i started college_zps7dtmd5zj.jpg

It's incredibly weird to me to not have started a new school year for the first time in the past twelve years this year... I can't believe I'm a college grad; I really don't know where the time has gone, but man it's a great feeling to have a diploma after a LOT of hard work! Post-grad life is a lot different than I had expected it to be thus far but I truly cannot complain in the least. The best part about college isn't the parties or the freedom - these are nice and all, but the true blessing in disguise that comes from the college experience is the way you grow as a human. As I sit here now, I really have realized just how many life lessons I learned throughout college. And let me tell ya - there's way more of them than there is knowledge about any of the Gen Ed requirement classes I took. If I could go back, there are definitely things I would change and tweak around - starting from the very beginning of the experience. Literally. I've also realized how many things there are that I wish I knew before I began my college years, and just how much I actually did learn. So here I am today, a college graduate - sharing all of the things I wish someone had told me upon entering some of the craziest years of my life (so far, God bless):

Have an opened mind. You're in a new school, meeting new people and getting used to a whole new routine. It can be hard to not want to socialize at first or do things that are out of your comfort zone with new friends, but it's the best thing you can do for yourself. I found it really hard to get myself to want to do anything social having to do with my school (especially since I was a commuter student) but it really does make a huge difference.

It's not as bad as your high school teachers make it seem. All throughout high school I heard teachers basically warn students that college would be "so different"; as in much harder, more strict and who knows what else - but they say it and they say it a lot. Is college different than high school? Completely. But it isn't nearly as scary or intimidating once you start as your high school teachers make it seem. Professors expect more out of you because you're older and in a mature situation, but in many cases they're more laid back. Throughout my four years of undergrad, I always asked myself why high school was shaped around making college seem so different and scary. I promise, it isn't!

The work you put in shows. It is different than high school in that 98% of the time, professors don't care if you do the work. It isn't affecting them, it's affecting you. But if you put in the necessary work and do what you have to, you'll be on their good side. Four for you, Glen Coco.

It's okay to still not know what you want to do. I've always been indecisive as to what I want for a career; it wasn't until the beginning of junior year of undergrad that I realized I wanted to go into interior design and I assumed it wouldn't last, as every other potential career path I'd come up with in the past. 2 years later I think it's safe to say it is something I love and will pursue, but good lord it took a LOT of time to get there! I changed my major 4 times. Four. FOUR different majors, courses of study and a LOT of headaches! Don't freak out if you don't know what you want to do. Don't freak out if you decide you want to change your major a million times. That's what college is for - and everyone is in the same boat.

Take advantage of the services your school offers. Gosh, I look back and I realize I could have had an entire resume written for me - among many other things. Don't be afraid to ask for help or to use the services that are literally there FOR your benefit. You're paying thousands of dollars a year to go to this school, use the dang resources people! I wish I did!

Do you, and don't worry about everyone else. Way easier said than done, I know. It's not hard to get super caught up in your friend group, the craziness of classes and everything else going on. But it's beyond important to make sure you're striving for success and doing what you need to do and what's best for you in the long run. Any friend group whose worth your time will understand that much.

Finding a happy medium doesn't come easy. Do I sleep, do I finish that paper? Should I go to the football game or should I not call out of work? Is going to this bar really worth the headache tomorrow? Is this class worth my time? What's my family doing; can I hang out with my best friend this weekend? - Some of the MANY, many questions that will run through your mind one million times per day. There's so much to do and so little time. If you're blogging through college - add that to the list like so many of us have! Balancing things out and finding that happy medium takes a LOT of time. I don't think it was until the spring semester of my sophomore year that I really felt like I had a good schedule going for myself. It's so, so important to prioritize everything going on. Whether that means you get a planner and write everything down or you make to-do lists, find what works for you and decide what comes first. It isn't easy, but once you find that middle ground and are happy with it, it works and things fall into place.

Do NOT buy your textbooks before the first 1/2 class meetings. Seriously. Don't. I can't tell you how much money I saved by not running out to buy my books just to unnecessarily bring them to the first class meeting. To be honest... There were a LOT of classes that I didn't even need to buy the book(s) for... It may sound awful, but hear me out. First of all, you may decide to drop the class; you might hate the professor (it's bound to happen) and just don't feel like it's a good fit. You might read the syllabus and find out the book isn't even on the professor's list. And the worst - you might buy a huge textbook that costs $170 only to use one chapter. Freshman year I bought all of the required books, but never from the bookstore. Always look on sites like Amazon - you'll find the book for a fraction of the price, or possibly the e-book version which is a blessing! Back to my point: textbooks aren't always necessary. You can almost always find excerpts online; sometimes even the whole text book online. Of course there are exceptions and in most cases, the book(s) are necessary. If you do buy the book, sell it on a site like Amazon, Chegg or Valore Books after the semester is over. But I promise you - I barely bought any books for three years of undergrad and I'm still holding a Bachelor's Degree. Save your money. ; )

STUDY ABROAD. I always wanted to, and I never did. I kick myself almost every day for not taking the opportunity to study abroad. I have such a travel bug, and I love seeing new places. I love experiencing new things and I love meeting new people. I'll never understand why I didn't pursue taking a semester abroad when it's something I ALWAYS told myself I wanted to do. Learn from my mistake, friends. Take the chance on yourself, get out there and freakin' travel.

Do everything you can to make it a great experience. Your college years are the last four years before a real sense of adulthood hits you in the gut. There's a slim chance you'll get a great job straight out of college and there will almost always be something you wish you could have done better. Whether you enjoy where you are or not, make the best of it. After all, it really is a learning and growth experience. If you do anything in your college years, let it be personal growth. It's the best thing you could ask for.

XOXO

34 comments :

  1. Love this post! Thank you so much for sharing! It really is a huge money saver not to buy your books right away! And even to look online!

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  2. I graduated in May and 100% agree with all of this! Especially taking advantage of school services! We do pay for them.

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  3. Life as a college grad is different. Then you decide to go to grad school and think it'll be fun and you're ready. Then reality hits..haha! But in all seriousness, this list is such an amazing thing!

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  4. I love this post! When I first started college, I was terrified. I wish I'd known how much LESS horrible it would be than I thought.

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  5. I can relate to all of this so very much! And you are so right about waiting to buy your text books lol. Sometimes I didnt even buy them!

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  6. Great tips! College was one of the best times of my life and I definitely think it had to do with taking advantage of all the opportunities (or trying to, haha) while I was there. Finding a balance was hard, but it was definitely a worthy cause to attempt to achieve! I'm also totally with you on the not buying any textbooks thing! I'd sell mine back on Amazon afterward! :P

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  7. I absolutely love the point you make about not having any idea what you want to do. I just did a career change and I couldn't be happier. Sharing this article with my college freshman sister!

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  8. Spot on! I wish I had relinquished some leadership opportunities so that I may study abroad. My life could have been totally different. I also agree with using the services offered. I was to proud to ask for a tutor and didn't network with our academic club enough. Awesome job.

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  9. The work you put in shows - this is absolutely true and it carries over in so many other facets of life.

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  10. Love this! I so wish I did the study abroad program (I found out about it too late) and UGH! Don't even get me started on the textbooks :(

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  11. Great post from a wise girl...I shall have to share this with Ashlin! Have a great evening lovely girl! You are amazing!

    xo
    Valerie

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  12. These are great tips for those who are graduating college. I'll be sure to pass it along.

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  13. College was pretty easy, though it helped that the courses in my junior and senior years of high school had courses that I had in my college. I also remained active in extracurriculars, and made sure to take advantage of any study groups.

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  14. Great Post!

    I can't even believe how many textbooks I had to return in the first few years... One class I was in had 8 books listed because... there were 8 groups and each group only had to cover 1. So much money wasted.

    I wish I'd spent more time getting involved, using school services and going to networking events, if I were to do it again that would be my main focus!

    xxox
    Laura @ www.cookwineandthinker.com

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  15. And the funny thing is people think college is "the real world" nope, not one bit. Haha I miss it!

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  16. I so regret not studying abroad =[ These are all great lessons.

    xoxo, Jenny

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  17. I loved college but there are definitely things I wish I'd done/notdone. I totally agree with the whole study abroad thing. One of my biggest regrets.

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  18. These are such great tips! My cousins just started as freshmen and I tried to impart all of my wisdom in like an hour-long conversation haha
    XO Amanda | www.glitterandspice.com

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  19. Congrats on graduating!! I wish I had done a lot differently in college, there are other things you can do post college to for traveling. Plus share your experience with others heading off to college!

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  20. What an honest and insightful list. One of the biggest things I kick myself every day for is not utilizing all of the free stuff through my university. There were SO MANY THINGS I could have had done for me for free and I just didn't think about it. (smh)

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  21. Great post! I wish I had known all of this in college as well!

    Greta | www.gretahollar.com

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  22. This is such a great post! I'm in my second year, and this post is really helpful. I definitely agree that putting in effort really shows in the end.

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  23. Love the study abroad reco. I wish had done that but it was not even on my radar. Great advice.

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  24. This is a fantastic post. My Daughter just started College. I will have to share this with her.

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  25. I remember buying books that I rarely used. It was so annoying and I wish that I didn't spend the money on them.

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  26. Oh, this is so great to share with kids going to college! I think taking advantage of the school's services is the best advice you have here.

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  27. These are great tips for new college students. Congratulagions on graduating and i wish you luck on your future endeavors! :(

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  28. These are really great tips. I am going to share them with my step daughter who will be starting college soon. The best tip is to be ok with not knowing what you want to do.

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  29. Really loved this. I've been out of school for a few years but I can still see how helpful these tips would have been. I got halfway through school before realizing it wasn't for me and I changed my direction. I always felt like a failure but I know now that it's totally normal to change your mind.

    La Belle Sirene

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  30. Great info for any college student! I wish I had known to check bulletin boards for used books before spending a fortune on new ones!

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  31. Great tips for everyone entering college! It is so different than high school.

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  32. These really are great tips! I wish I had gone to college when I was younger, instead of now that I'm older and it's more difficult.

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  33. These are really important things that incoming college students should know. These are reality expectations that they can use to overcome college blunders, I wish I found source where to buy essays during college to make project much more easier to handle.

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