37 Pieces Of Advice You’ve Never Heard About College Before Until Now, Especially If You’re A Freshman

Flickr / Josh
Flickr / Josh

Producer’s note: Someone on Quora asked: What is some advice that most college students are not ever likely to hear? Here is one of the best answers that’s been pulled from the thread.


  1. Your degree doesn’t make you special and it doesn’t guarantee you a job, happiness, or success.
  2. College debt should not be taken on frivolously and it can limit your options tremendously.
  3. Studying the liberal arts can be very valuable for your future career. Getting a degree in liberal arts, not so much. Don’t trust the adviser who tells you otherwise.
  4. A law degree should never be a backup plan.
  5. If your degree is the most impressive thing about you by the time you’ve graduated, you’re doing it wrong.
  6. Don’t stress about your grades — in the end, there’s only you and the value you can create.
  7. Regularly assign yourself creative projects to finish and put out into the world.
  8. Don’t brag about your all nighters — all I see is someone who procrastinates.
  9. College is not and should not be the best time of your life.
  10. Spend the bulk of your studying time learning about things you don’t learn in class.
  11. You’ll learn more about writing by writing a regular blog than you will writing an essay. Do it.
  12. Get work experience as soon as possible.
  13. Don’t pad your resume with clubs or other things you aren’t actually interested in. It’ll show up later.
  14. Sit down and really consider whether you even want to be in college. Ask yourself, what does attending college really give me that skipping it won’t? Ask yourself what you want out of college? Who do you want to be on the other end of the 4 years?
  15. Seriously consider taking a gap year — it’ll be the best experience you have “in college.”
  16. Take advantage of the free money on campus — you’re spending a small fortune to be there, so make the most of it while it lasts.
  17. Remember that networking is different than having a class with someone or sharing a drink. It requires hard work! Just because you go to X school does not mean you’re guaranteed meaningful connections.
  18. If you don’t know what you want to do, college is a very costly way to find out. Consider an alternative.
  19. Get over your school ranking, it’s not that important and you aren’t that special.
  20. Keep in mind that your professors don’t always know best.
  21. Finish as quickly as possible.
  22. Don’t make graduate school your default option out of college — it means more debt and more time out of the workplace.
  23. There are better ways to change the world than campus activism — explore them.
  24. Grow the hell up and stop whining about everything.
  25. Don’t go for a double major — it doesn’t prove anything and it will take time away from more important personal and professional work you could be doing.
  26. Be humble — you got a good grade? So what. What have you created? What value have you put out into the world?
  27. There are always going to be bigots, real or perceived — you let them win when you allow yourself to be offended by everything. Stop it.
  28. Your degree is not a permission slip to start your life – you can start anytime you want. Go build something!
  29. Stop treating your parents as your owners, even if they’re paying tuition. You don’t owe them anything.
  30. Recognize that college is not like the real world and plan accordingly.
  31. Learn 2-3 skills that make you more interesting, more fun, and more marketable. Focus your education around these goals.
  32. Give yourself assignments and reading lists — the ones you get in school will pale in comparison.
  33. You are who you associate with — choose wisely. You don’t need friends just to have friends.
  34. Create a product or a service and try to sell it. Even if your goal isn’t to be a business owner, the experience is tremendously valuable. As one responder said: “Love lifting weights?  Try your hand at physical training.  Like parkour?  Make a parkour DVD and try to sell it online.  Dig paintball?  Start a paintball blog and see if you can sell ad space.”
  35. Don’t skip club meetings to go to parties or study for tests — clubs are one of the few redeeming things about being on campus and you should make use of them as much as possible.
  36. The best thing about being young is that the world doesn’t have very high expectations yet. Use that to your advantage!
  37. Don’t treat college as the end-all-be-all of your life. There are other things to do at this age. Explore them! You don’t get this time back.
This answer originally appeared at Quora: The best answer to any question. Ask a question, get a great answer. Learn from experts and get insider knowledge.

More From Thought Catalog