Going away to college was one of the best decisions I ever made, hands down. It gave me so many wonderful experiences. However, before that happened, the thought of college was both exciting and daunting at the same time. I was one of those kids itching to leave the nest, but at the same time scared about what comes next. A bit of a mess at the time, if you will. So, I’m sharing my knowledge with you. Here are three things I wish I’d known before college.
High school is a bubble. The reason is that everything is practically done for you. You’re given books, free meals, free transportation to school, your favorite teacher or parent usually reminds you about the important things–for example, staying on top of your work and the importance of maintaining good grades. You get to see your friends practically every day!
Fast forward to college, and everything shifts. You’re expected to act like adults because you are one. You and you alone are responsible for what you do here and for your experiences, so be proactive! You can’t wait around for opportunities, people, or important information to come to you. If you have any questions, ask. When you need help, don’t be afraid or ashamed to reach out to someone. If you want something done, you have to do it yourself. Even in the case of your own dishes and laundry in your dorm/apartment
Be proactive, both in and out of the classroom, and it’s such an empowering lesson. The expectation is that you will be proactive and take charge of your future. After all, it is yours. Nothing is given for free in the adult world, everything is earned. Since college is your first step toward that, you might as well learn it now. It’s also ok to take baby steps. Change is not an event, it’s a gradual process.
Don’t Rush It
We live in a society that thrives on everything needing to be available in an instant or micro minute. Don’t treat your college experience that way. Life is not a sprint, it’s a marathon. I wish someone would’ve told me to take my time. While I was in it I was like everyone else itching, begging to get out. The truth is, the time actually went by quicker than expected.
As soon as I got out into the world, I was longing for my college days and all the perks. For example, late-night food runs, random road trips, naps in the middle of the day, and extended winter and summer breaks. What I like to refer to now as the good old days. Do your best and soak up every experience. Take lots of pictures, make memories. When your college days are over, it’s the memories that will last forever.
Extracurricular activities are not just for high school. They count in college as well, maybe even more. It goes back to the idea of being a well-rounded person. There is more to college than classes and homework. Getting involved on campus opens up so many doors for all kinds of opportunities. For example, making new friends, networking, community service, and overall great memories. In addition, if you don’t have a lot of job experience starting out, some employers and internship coordinators may consider your involvement on campus. The skills you learn as being part of a club/organization are more often than not transferable and have the ability to help you in no matter what field you choose. I loved my student organizations while I was at Temple and many of the friends I met there I still keep in contact with today. Get involved. It’s worth it.
I hope that these tips serve you well and that you will make fewer mistakes than I did before I knew this stuff. We make mistakes, (in college you will make many) grow from them, and eventually pay it forward by spreading the knowledge.