8 Things I Wish I Had Known Before I Started College

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As a college senior who will be graduating in July, there are so many things I’ve learned that I wish someone had told me 4 years ago. Even more, I wish someone had told me these things and then punched me in my stomach until I promised to believe them.

1. You don’t have to have a plan.

You’re just out of high school; you don’t have to have it all together. Hell, if you know what you’re doing, you’re already 10 steps ahead of the majority of college graduates. But if you want to get school over with as soon as possible so you can start your life, you’d better start thinking about it.

2. Your high school friendships will fall apart sooner, rather than later.

Whoever told you that the friends you grew up with and graduated with will always be there lied. Sure, you’ll see them around if you end up at the same school, but you’ll soon realize that your lives are leading in separate directions, and your friendship will turn from best friends, to friends who occasionally speak, to two people who share an awkward wave at the supermarket. Hell, I graduated 4 years ago and only speak to one of my high school friends on a regular basis.

3. Get involved in organizations on campus.

There is no easier way to make your college career a success than to start early and establish relationships with people in your major, or even just people who share similar interests. I think that was my biggest regret, not taking advantage of the opportunities provided by my school until it was almost too late.

4. Internships will help you decide if you’re studying the right field or not.

You know everyone always says, “Experience is the most important thing!” and they’re right. Not only is it good for teaching you what you will be doing on the job, internships are the best way for students to decide whether or not they really want to do what they think they want to do.

5. If you’re going to a school 20 minutes away from your parents and living at home is still an option for you, don’t pass it up.

I did my freshman year of undergrad at a school 4 hours away from my parents. When I decided to transfer back to the college in my hometown, I was adamant that I would not be moving back in with my parents. I had a part time job, and decided that I would take out extra student loans so that I would be able to live in an apartment near school. Now, I am sitting on damn near $50k in student loans when I would be sitting on $25k had I sucked it up and moved back home.

6. Have fun, but be responsible.

Face it, you already don’t believe anything I’m telling you. And that’s fine, sometimes you’ve got to learn things the hard way. We both know you’re going to sleep through your 8 a.m. class with a hangover so bad that you think you’re already dead before you wake up. We know you’re going to find out about the fire drill early, and pull all of the beer from the fridge and run across campus to chug it in the library so you don’t get caught. We know you’re going to take your water bottle full of vodka and Crystal Light to class because you feel like being a bad ass. (Okay, well maybe those are some of my experiences…) Regardless, you’re allowed to do stupid things like that, but remember where you are and why you’re there. Never get so caught up in the experience that you fail 3 classes and ruin your chances of getting into nursing school.

7. Don’t be afraid to annoy the shit out of your advisors.

Being a transfer student scared me. Hell, up until I started my senior year, college still scared me. That being said, I never asked my advisor anything about courses, I simply did what they told me to. I was a robot when it came to registering for classes I needed, and some that I didn’t need. (Who in the hell needs oceanography??) So when it came time to get into my senior level classes, I was told that I couldn’t take courses I needed to graduate, because they weren’t offered until next fall. (Keep in mind, my graduation date is set for the end of July.) When I questioned my advisor, she told me that there was nothing she could do, because “the course rotation is posted online, and it isn’t the department’s fault that I didn’t register sooner.” So long story short I was able to substitute another class for that one, because I bombarded my advisor every day with random stops to her office and emails.

8. Get to know your classmates.

I am a HORRIBLE public speaker. I get nervous and shaky; I blush and then I lose my train of thought. One time, during a class presentation, I had a panic attack and had to sit down in the middle of my presentation. I was shy and didn’t talk to anyone in class anyways, so I was really uncomfortable speaking in front of them. It was horrifying. Once I got into my major classes however, I became friends with everyone because we were all in the same classes. For the last presentation I gave, my classmates actually voted my presentation the best of the semester. Because I knew them and felt comfortable speaking in front of them, I was able to loosen up and have confidence in my abilities. Thought Catalog Logo Mark

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