8 Things I Wish I Knew in College

It’s been a little over a year since I graduated, so I decided to write a post to re-live some of the “good” old days. As a student, I couldn’t wait to graduate and finally live my life and do the things I said I’d always wanted to do, but, as experience would have it, I’m left still wondering when I’ll ever get to do those said things. Nevertheless, college is life-changing in a good way. The journey is an uphill battle mentally, emotionally, and spiritually, but hopefully, you’ll have more than a couple major takeaways to accompany any scars and bruises. Below is a list to help you on your way if you’re just starting college, in the middle of it, or just want something to relate to from my personal point of view. Without further ado, here we go:

8 Things I Wish I Knew While I was Still in College

1. Make a Bucket List – Your Time is Now!

Have a bucket list? Check those items off, especially the ones that you can financially afford! I know, it’s hard when you have to spend the weekend studying and you’re on a budget, but lack of time is something that rarely ever changes and this can be solely dependent on your future job. Furthermore, there will be other factors to consider after college: rent, bills, schedule with friends and family, and energy levels. The first year working is a tough transition. I personally never wanted to go out on the weekends, preferring instead to sleep in until I felt comfortable enough to branch out and live my life. It took a lot of discipline and I really wish I could go back and not have played it so safe.

2. Please Have a Social Life, You Won’t Die… Probably.

If you think you’re too busy now to have a social life, you cannot be more wrong. Ideally, you’ll have more free time after college but it really depends on your line of work and how drained you feel by the end of the week. Once you and your friends leave college and start living your own lives, it might be difficult to see each other as often. Making new friends after college might be difficult, so make sure you solidify bonds with the friends you have now. They may very well be your future bridesmaids or groomsmen. On a side note, just keep it reasonable. Don’t lose sight of the reason you came to college in the first place… which brings me to my next point…

3. Work Experience is Just as Important as Grades

I’ve heard a lot of employers saying “she has straight A’s but doesn’t know how to work”… Yeah, don’t be that person. Intern and get something on your resume. Gain experience. Network. Though grades are important, don’t forget to develop what’s going to KEEP you hired. You could be the smartest surgeon in the room, but I’m not going to let you operate on me if you seem like the jittery type.

4. Develop and Stick to a Study Routine

I only developed this my last year of college and I really wish I could have done it sooner. It would have saved me so many late nights and given me time to actually go out with my friends. If you own a planner, schedule everything and stick to it. It’s difficult at first, especially if you do activities based on how you feel in the moment or are just the spontaneous type, but guys, it really truly makes a mind-blowing difference.

5. Be Involved for the Right Reasons

When you join an organization that requires you to pay dues (sororities, fraternities, cultural groups, etc), you better be damn passionate about it. As you get busier, you may feel less inclined to join in on activities and make up excuses not to participate (but still have to pay up). That was me when I joined sorority. I absolutely loved it the first two years, but as soon as I started taking my core classes, interning, and my Little transferred, my motivation went down the drain. Out of obligation, I still paid my dues knowing that it could be put to good use by the more motivated members.  

6. Embrace and Initiate Inner Change

I think most people would agree that they change more while in university than in high school. Personally, college was an emotional roller coaster that I had to learn to maneuver and for someone like me who doesn’t know how to deal with emotions, this was more challenging than my actual studies and I graduated with a degree in accounting! What I wish I could have done was seek ways to self-improve. I know you get the brunt of that sort of banter from parents and professors, but learning to think and be a certain way can drastically improve your views on life especially once Mom and Dad stop being your fallback. Adulting is hard. Be your own cheerleader when the going gets tough and your own strength when you need to fight. Overall, learn to be strong, independent, confident, and learn what makes you feel happy and fulfilled. For me, this was music. I could have the worst day at work, but I’ll sing in the car ride home and feel so much better.

7. Dating is a Learning Experience

I dated a bit while I was in college and learned a lot about myself in the process. Dating not only teaches you about what you want in a significant other, but also about how strong your values are. And maybe this is just me, but I was lucky to be under the influence of a mom who was independent, confident, and incredibly successful on her own. I also attended an all girls high school, so I didn’t really experience self-esteem issues or teenage angst the way most teenagers do. Not to say I didn’t have ANY insecurities but for the most part, I really loved myself and can’t imagine dating someone not fully loving myself first. A significant other is a partner, an extension of you (but should not make up who you are), and an equal. If your S.O. takes you away from who you are, the friends you knew before him/her, your family, and your values, then you should questions why it was so easy for someone else to influence you especially if it goes against the beliefs you held beforehand. The exception to this is if the change was necessary to grow with the best example being your parents. In short, fully loving yourself means that you’ll be less inclined to change your priorities, your values, your dreams, etc. for someone else. This will dwindle the fish pool to potential people who will love you for you.  

8. College Flies By Quickly So Enjoy It While It Lasts

I can’t tell you how many times during a work week I say to myself “Man, I wish I was a student again.” Times were much simpler and as much as I hated studying, I miss the camaraderie between my friends and I who I barely have time to see each other nowadays and the spontaneous late night trips to ramen or boba after a grueling study session. I also miss the freedom of knowing my parents would still have my back financially if anything were to go wrong and having my beliefs challenged for the first time. I’m not saying that working adulthood is unbearably difficult but it’s definitely not the same, so enjoy the ride while it lasts. Though I’m partial to the quote as everyone has a unique experience, your college years may very well be “the best years of your life.”

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