7 Things I Wish I Knew As A College Freshman

Amy Gee
Amy Gee

1. Skip School For The Right Reasons

Here’s a news flash: Most of your college courses won’t matter. This is a pretty bold point to be coming out of the gate with, but I wanted to make this clear.

Travel (cheaply). Sit in on a class you’d never take. Ask that person in your english class on a date. Most people never do what they tell themselves they’ll do. Go do something incredibly stupid. Do things nobody would expect you’d do. The story is almost always worth it. What you’ll learn in most college programs is 80% nonsense and 20% useful. Make sure you’re conscious of which is which and free up your time for more important things. ‘Important’ is obviously subjective but that’s besides the point.

Even if you’re in the category where you think you’ll be going to a grad school and need good grades — then learn how you can hack the system and still get good grades. Read The 4-Hour Workweek — work smart and hard (just less).

2. When You Have No (Real) Skills — Make Sure You Have Enthusiasm

Very few people are world class at what they do at 18, 19. You’re probably not world class. And That’s Okay. You probably shouldn’t be at this point. Recently, a entrepreneurial mentor of mine whom I saw speak my freshman year said, “Mitch, I remember when I met you freshman year. You were overly enthusiastic and ask a lot of questions.”

My response was: what else was I suppose to be? I was 18 years old. In the objective view of things, I new next to nothing about starting a company. I was there to fail, ask questions, and learn from everyone. I said yes to every opportunity I could get my hands on — and then tried to over-deliver on whatever was expected.

You’re not in a position to hand select exactly what you get to work on just yet. You need to prove yourself. The world owes you nothing. If you’re a freshman, remember this: Keep saying yes to things until you have choices. Then keep saying “no” unless it’s the one thing you end up choosing to focus in on.

3. Be Honest And Straight-forward

Everyone and their grandmother with a blog in 2015 is going to tell you to “become emotionally intelligent.” Newflash time: the vast majority of those articles are 100% BS.

Here’s what you need to know (and what many of them mean to say):

• Be honest, straightforward, and clear. The most important “emotional intelligent” decision I’ve ever made was to opt-out of playing mind games. It takes two to tango — just don’t respond to it.

• People find honesty refreshing. Perhaps I just enjoy ripping people a new one — but really I think people find honesty and bluntness refreshing. Imagine if you didn’t have to constantly read between the lines. It makes everything more efficient. It’s also the easiest way to gain respect — especially if you learn how to be honest with yourself (which is5000x harder than it sounds).

• Work on being (more) self aware. This is probably the single most important thing anyone can do to improve every aspects of their lives.

4. You’ll Live and Die By Your Habits

The first part of this is: know yourself. Be self aware. Not everyone is going to be a ‘morning person’ — but know that most people who play at the top level are. Learn what works well for you and write down things that are holding you back.

The second part is: Small actions have massive consequences. If you need a visualization google ‘the effects of compound interest.” Not doing your laundry is not just not doing your laundry (I learned this the hard way). All bad habits are gateway drugs to other bad habits.

Remember this: you’re going to take the path of least resistance throughout your day. Design your life so that you can automate the most important daily chores and the things you say you want to complete. If you want to learn Spanish then set up a system where you take 20 minutes to practice everyday. Every time you tell yourself you’re just ‘too busy’ remember that ‘too busy’ is secret code for ‘too unfocused’.

5. Stop Talking, Start Doing

Yup. That is all.

6. Repeat After Me: “My health is Important”

The freshman 15 is real and taking care of your health is one of the most common lessons people opt to learn the hard way. A lot of people. Most of those who put on the freshman 15 (in America, anyway) never actually learn that their health is important and become obese over time, get diabetes, and die from some sort of cardiovascular decease by 72.

Sorry to go deep there — but that’s my point: it’s not a joking matter. If you don’t immediately take the lead on controlling your health (mentally and physically) then the chances that you take action to correct it is incredibly slim in the long run. The relationship between the number of days you put something off and the probability of you completing it is inversely proportional.

You are what you eat. You are what you do.

7. Build Your ‘Personal Brand ‘— It’s compounding

This is a tricky subject. But here’s the gist:

Identify what you’re curious about or find yourself reading for pleasure. Listen to the the leaders in that space and take notes. Listen (x3)

Once you develop a unique view start producing some content that will be a unique and valuable position. Provide value to those who are just getting started. By ‘provide value’, I mean do what you wish someone would have done for you at that point of the game. Don’t be (too) self promotional. Make sure you have the right tools to collect the compounding effects.There are plenty of ways to create a personal site. Make one, you can always change it later. It’ll be important to learn how to spin and craft your story over the long run. There are plenty of people who go through college as a sheep in the middle of the heard. Be self aware. Thought Catalog Logo Mark


More From Thought Catalog