10 Things I Learned During My First Year Of College

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It’s been a long, rocky, but at the same time, enormously fun road this first year of college. As it comes to a close, I’ve turned reflective, and this piece commemorates some of the lessons I’ve learned through some major trial and error in the past two semesters.

1. It’s not impossible, but it’s very, very difficult for a girl and a guy to be just friends. And to stay just friends.

Maybe it’s just because we’re all crazy, young, hormonal kids cooped up together for four years, but I’ve discovered that more often than not, someone will eventually crack. It’s not always a bad thing, but before you take the leap, be sure to ask yourself if you and your friend can handle the situation and it’s fallout maturely, no matter what happens.

2. Smartphones are a pain in the ass.

It’s wearying, being expected to answer instantaneously to every text message and email. Sometimes you want to just be able to ignore people. Not because you don’t like them, but just because it’s nice to be alone with your thoughts, uninterrupted by the generic dings and vibrations of iPhones and the pressure to accept those Saturday night plans right now.

3. It’s only a big deal if you make it a big deal.

That’s not to say that there aren’t things that are a big deal. But if you do something, have your opinion about it aligned before you do something. Don’t freak out about it after the fact. Have your mind made up regarding your boundaries ahead of time, and stick to them. Once you do it, you can’t undo it.

4. Don’t get yourself into a situation that you can’t get out of on your own.

Whether it’s a date or a party, always have an exit strategy. Don’t ever rely on someone you don’t know very well to get you out of a situation that could turn ugly, especially if there’s been drinking involved.

5. Go to events by yourself.

Not going to an event that you’re really interested in, whether it be a research presentation or a student organization social, just because you can’t get a friend to tag-team it with you could seriously hold you back. Don’t be afraid to participate in new opportunities on your own. By doing this, you’ll branch out and have a diverse group of friends to hang out with, all of which will most likely have have some common interest with you.

6. Go to class.

Believe it or not, class is important. And every time you don’t go, you’re literally throwing money away. (Either your own or your parents.) And if you don’t go to class for long enough, it will affect your GPA. Eventually.

7. Be open.

You never know how new experiences may change your future. Don’t have your future set in stone. Things change, you’re in college! Don’t waste time doubting yourself because you’re afraid that you may need to change your major. Better to put in some extra work now, rather than be unhappy in a job for years to come.

8. It’s not about where you start; it’s about where you finish.

This is a piece of advice that my father has repeated to me a countless number of times since I received my multiple Ivy League rejections. Andddd he’s right. When you work hard, no matter where you are, opportunities will be afforded to you, which may just result in you ending up exactly where you wanted to be in the first place.

9. Make to do lists.

It’s easy to feel overwhelmed in the stressful transitive period that is your first year of college. It’s easy to forget when that meeting is or when that paper is due. So use those organizational apps, whether you’re an Android or an Apple addict. Making lists prioritizes what you need to do and when you need to do them by. Overall, they’ll help you manage your time better, and may even prevent you from going crazy. No guarantees though.

10. Go for it.

Whether it be applying for that super competitive internship or giving that cute guy in the food court your phone number unsolicited, you have absolutely nothing to lose. And you may be pleasantly surprised at how things work out when you give them a chance. TC Mark

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