There are more lessons learned in college than simply learning how to take notes, take tests, and pass classes. College is a place to discover who you are, find out what your purpose is, and how you are going to chase your dreams. Life begins the day after graduation and the lessons learned in college assist in the journey after the academic career ends. Here are some of the most important lessons I’ve learned.
1. Be Yourself
One of the most important lessons learned in college was to be myself. There are so many different people that come from different backgrounds, different states, and different upbringings that it can be easy to lose yourself in the crowd. Don’t ever lose sight of your morals and values – you will find friends who connect with you and will appreciate you as you are.
2. Get Involved
Campus life is exciting and entertaining. Getting involved can not only develop you to become a better student, leader, and friend, but it can also help the time go by during the four years. Living on campus is a new journey and can be scary at times. By getting involved, you will meet new friends and share experiences with others and feel more at home. I was involved in clubs, organizations, the business school, and residential life and I found that in getting involved I discovered my passions, while also connecting with lifelong friends in the process, too.
3. Befriend Professors
Let me make this very clear: You are not a nerd if you are friends with your professors. Sure some people may associate befriending teachers as a nerdy thing to do but you know what? Think about the long-term benefits and think about yourself before caring about what others ‘think’ about you. By feeling comfortable enough to approach my professors about a lecture, an assignment, or go over homework, I put my grades and my career ahead because I took the time to actually learn from my mistakes.
4. Work Hard before Playing Hard
College = partying (in most young people’s minds). Is this true? Yes and no. College isn’t always just about the partying. The truth is, if you are walking into campus life thinking all you’ll be doing is drinking and going out, you will do poorly in classes and you will miss out on learning about yourself…I promise, because I’ve seen it happen to classmates of mine. I learned that even in college a balance must be respected: before going out with friends or hanging out with people, I made sure to do my work first and get ahead scholastically. Guess what? It paid off in the long run.
5. Don’t Fall for Peer Pressure
College life isn’t always about what you see in the movies. If you go to a party and don’t take a drink that has been offered to you, people will not care as much as you dreadfully think. Personally, I didn’t drink the first 3 years of college because it didn’t appeal to me, so when I went out I brought water and nobody ever cared to peer pressure me into drinking. Everyone is usually too drunk to even remember who drank and who didn’t so why ruin your night if you don’t want to do something?
6. Remain Single
Most of you will probably leave comments about this one but I mean well when I say: remain single during college for as long as you can. As I mentioned before, college is a time for you to discover yourself, not for someone else to discover you. If you are tied down with a boyfriend you will not be as open to getting involved on campus or focusing on your grades. My brother went into college with a girlfriend he began dating in high school and while she was in her senior year and he was a freshman on campus, he missed out on a lot of opportunities which eventually led to heartbreak and a break up. If you’re already in a relationship, try doing things together around campus; if you’re currently single, there is no rush to hook up
7. Be Open Minded to Changes
Change is the only constant in college. For someone as ridiculously OCD as myself, being open minded to change was a difficult task and it took me a while to accept. I can confidently say, though, that post graduation I have learned that if you can be open minded and accept change in your life, in your relationships, and in your future, you will be more at peace with yourself. Sure it’s okay to cry and get upset about things from time to time because that’s normal, but reflect and meditate on the reality that things will always be changing around you.
8. Don’t Get Caught up Drama
Ladies, drama isn’t worth getting caught up in. Some of you may thrive off drama or maybe it’s all you’ve ever known. But some of you may absolutely loathe drama and rightfully so. I’ve learned that there are no such things as ‘cliques’ because after graduation it doesn’t matter what group of friends you belonged to; I’ve learned that it’s possible to have friends in different groups; I’ve learned that the ones who call themselves popular or who think they are awesome just because they’re in a sorority or fraternity actually don’t know how to embrace the real world after they leave college. These points are not meant to offend but simply bring awareness that drama is only temporary – don’t let it negatively affect your college years…it’s not worth it.
9. Take Care of Your Body
Taking care of your body means: not over drinking, eating the right foods, exercising, and not allowing stress to take over your life (or possibly lead you to want to rip your hair out). Remember the word balance: this word should become your mantra. It’s very possible to be a popular nerd who looks after herself and knows when to relax and have fun. If school work, personal life, and extra curricular activities are out of balance, you will not be able to handle campus life. If, instead, you take care your body you will breeze through your four years with enjoyment and peace.
Most of these lessons learned in college may come across as ‘harsh’ and ‘in-your-face’. My intention is to be like a big sister and to share experiences and give feedback to help, guide, and warn you of certain things during your college years. To those of you currently in school, what lessons have you learned so far? For those of you who have already graduated, what lessons have you learned in college?