1. Get a real email address. Even if you don’t plan on going corporate when you graduate, trust that your high school moniker does not translate into the real world. No one wants to hire, date, or bang Sk8erG33k99@aim.com.
2. And while you’re at it, make sure it’s a Gmail account? Maybe y’all know this already, but AIM basically doesn’t exist after college. Gchat or bust.
3. Do not miss out on huge opportunities (like living in another country for a little more than your regular tuition, if that) because you’re afraid or because you don’t want to miss out on what’s happening on campus. Campus will be there when you get back, and leaving the country will never be easier or cheaper.
4. Understand your finances. Like, go to the financial aid office and figure out what moves you need to make (if any) to get on the right track when it comes to paying your loans back (if any). This kind of expertise and help is free in college, but it costs an ass-ton once you’re a graduate. And you will probably not have an ass-ton of money to spend on financial counseling services, to be frank.
5. Try not to care so much about your love life or lack thereof. A lot of the people you invest your energy into will disappear after college. And if they do reemerge, they’ll probably be 20 pounds heavier and unemployed. That’s just science.
6. Build relationships with professors you actually like. I know some of them are ew! old! But you’re going to need all the allies you can get once you graduate — especially intelligent, experienced… old allies.
7. Get a job. Your school probably has some sort of work study program that wil accomodate your schedule. You could legitimately work two hours a day in a program like this. I suggest working in the financial aid department, kill two birds with one stone. It’s good to have friends in high places.
8. Do not buy your books at the freaking bookstore. It’s a complete rip-off and should be a last resort. Amazon most likely has what you need, and for half the price. Split the books with a friend, if you can. (Related: sell the books on Amazon when you’re done. Again, the bookstore should be avoided at all costs — unless you work there. Discount, hay.)
9. Actually read the books that are assigned to you in English class. I can’t promise you’ll like them, but I can promise that people will talk about these freaking books, like they were the ones who wrote them, until the end of time. I still have no goddamn idea what Jane Eyre is about and it haunts me to this day.
10. Don’t hate yourself for not knowing what all of this work will amount to. It’s good to think that you know what you want out of a career, but the truth is that your first job (or couple of jobs) after graduation might have nothing to do with your major and may send you down a completely different, previously inconceivable path — and that’s OK. It’s good, even. Be open to changing your mind and your goals, always.
11. Try your hand at different internships, even if you only get school credit once. It’s true that internships don’t guarantee you a job, but they do guarantee you connections, new experiences, friends, and maybe even cash! (If you’re lucky.)
12. Don’t be passive about your schedule. Your school probably offers a ton of interesting courses that can fill your core requirements, if you’re smart about it. Why take biology (again) when you can take oceanography instead? Why take Spanish for the 14th time when you could learn Japanese? Why embarrass yourself in dance class when you can learn about the dude who scored American Beauty?
13. Now is the best time ever to try therapy, if you were ever interested. Your campus (likely) has free counseling and you can roll in looking as shitty as you feel!
14. Call your family once in a while.
15. Take risks, do things that scare you. This one applies at any age, but the earlier you start, the sooner you can begin to figure out who you are and who you want to be.
16. Take a coding class. Learn HTML. Learn how to work the shit out of an Excel sheet. This information is valuable on a personal and professional level.
17. For christ’s sake, back up your damn computer. With all of your photos, papers, and porn goes your sanity.
18. Don’t spend money on nice furniture. You’ll probably move five times in the next ten years and end up losing or breaking it all. Wait until you have your own space before you go all Suzy Homemaker.
19. Go to your classes. You’re paying for the things. In the future, you’ll have to actively carve out time to pursue intellectual undertakings. It sucks. Learn it up, baby!
20. Don’t feel like you have to do things for the story. A few years from now, those stories are the ones you’ll probably avoid telling to anyone. The greatest stories come to you, not the other way around.
21. Not everything you learn in college will be important or useful. But the one relevant thing you have the opportunity to learn in those four years is balancing your priorities (keeping a scholarship, learning what interests you) with your bullshit (classes you’ll never think about again, partying). That’s the one skill you can count on using for the rest of your life.
22. Try not to freak out over assignments and tests. Freaking out will just mess with your productivity and your nerves. Throw on some Beethoven, make a cup of tea, calm the eff down, and do what you have to do. (Related: Don’t be one of those people who listens to “everything except country and classical music.” Not chic.)
23. These probably won’t be the best four years of your life, but they will be fun. Enjoy them.