26 Things I Wish I Would Have Known Before Going to College
December 17, 2013
1 | The cafeteria food isn’t always the best.
University dining charges about twice as much Chipotle and tastes about twice as worse.
2 | Some new friendships will grow, while others will fade.
Chances are the friends you met on the first week of school are not the friends you’ll carry throughout college. Still, good friendships here are as important as grades and way more important than finding your future wife or husband.
3 | Eighty-five percent of the time, you won’t touch your textbook.
4 | Odds are internships won’t happen for you this summer, but be a master of your own destiny.
Strive for it, but chances are freshmen won’t get a callback for a summer internship. It’s just the way it is. Be relieved — you’ve got a lot of things at your disposal to make it a memorable summer. Don’t waste a summer working your old Target job that paid $8.25 an hour. Travel and see the world now because as you get older, you’ll have burdens and responsibilities anchoring you down.
5 | Keep in touch with the ’rents.
Call your parents every once in a while. They want to know you haven’t fallen off the face of the earth while at college. Cherish them, and be happy that you have people in your life that care about you while you’re at a place where sincerity can be scarce.
6 | The real learning happens one-on-one.
Office hours with your professors is where college really happens. Plus, you never know what doors they can open for you in the future.
7 | Don’t let college turn into high school.
Friends from home are great, but don’t keep them glued to your side just to talk about the same old little town blues. Talk about ideas, not people. Who you were in high school means nothing. You’re free to be whoever you want to be. Let bygones be bygones and don’t revel in the past.
8 | Become a likeable human being.
Cultivate a personality. Invest in becoming a great human being. Internalize some of your experiences just for yourself and till a rich garden of quirks, innovation and compassion. Four years from now when it’s all said and done, people won’t care nearly as much about your honors and accomplishments as they do about your character and interpersonal skills.
9 | Practice your passion.
Learn what you love and, as Mark Twain once said, “Don’t let school get in the way of your education.” Have a fire in your belly and dream big; you’re at one of the best places in the world to make “big” happen. If you don’t know what you’re passionate about, there are thousands of classes and clubs that will help you figure that out. And it’s more than OK to sometimes put aside homework to try to master what you love. If you already know what your passion is, don’t let anyone stop you.
10 | To some professors, you’ll only be just another face they won’t remember.
Appreciate the ones who actually care about you and the subject that they’re teaching.
11 | Camaraderie in the classroom hardly exists.
As much as you want to have those buddies you had in high school that you could tell jokes to and outwit the teacher with, it’s likely that you won’t get that in an auditorium of 200 students.
12 | Opportunities are not going to jump out at you to let you know they exist.
Be proactive. Collect business cards, send emails, attend career fairs and try not to burn any bridges.
13 | Pack those ugly Christmas sweaters, Hawaiian shirts, neon bracelets and Eskimo hats.
They’re hot commodities here. And so is two-ply toilet paper.
14 | Don’t do things just to fill up the empty space on your resume.
We’re not in high school anymore, where we would try to exaggerate our way through the door. Join clubs because you’re passionate about them.
15 | Proofread.
16 | You will learn a lot outside the classroom through the people you meet.
Surround yourself with quirky, ambitious kids with sharp tongues and a hunger to see the world. Chances are, you won’t be the smartest, most charismatic or creative kid in most rooms. Over the next four years, you’re going to be challenged in ways you can’t imagine, across all fronts. Have an open mind. Question, observe and learn from them. And remember, if you’re the smartest person in the room, you’re in the wrong room.
17 | Take lots of pictures, but let the moments sink in.
Don’t just remember life through a camera. Make it so that 10 years from now, these things will be engraved in your memory, not just a memory stick. Let songs attach themselves to memories as well.
18 | Invest in shower shoes.
19 | Have fun, but remember to hit the books.
Make your time here worthwhile, but if at the end of the day all you’ve got to show for your thousands of dollars of debt is the ability to shotgun a beer in five seconds, the future won’t be a fun place for you.
20 | All-nighters suck.
They’re not fun, and you don’t want to be put in the position to have to pull one. You need sleep, so manage your time and motivate yourself to do work to get some. As busy as you think you may be during the day, lying around watching re-runs of “The Office” for three consecutive hours and scrolling through Facebook’s Best Vines page for another hour isn’t helping you out.
21 | Don’t take failures lying down.
You can study all day and night and still fail a test. Life will throw you curveballs. You have to be ready to hit them. Refusing to get out of bed because of that test you bombed or that assignment you missed is one of the worst things you can do. The world is happening outside, whether you’re playing or not.
Try following the words of Samuel Beckett: “Ever tried. Ever failed. No matter. Try Again. Fail again. Fail better.”
22 | You have state-of-the-art resources at your disposal.
You might never have access to these resources again, but right now you have them at your fingertips, so take advantage of the opportunity. This is likely the only time in your life when all you have to do is learn. You’re lucky to be at such a great institution and have access to more free stuff than you will ever have again. You have more opportunities to get involved than you could ever give your time to and more incredible people to meet than you could ever get to know. Milk it for all it’s worth. Don’t blow your time playing “Grand Theft Auto V” or lying on your bed scrolling through your phone for hours.
23 | Chambana can sometimes feel like a bubble.
It’s easy to get caught up on what’s happening on campus that you’ll forget that there is a bigger world out there.
24 | Watch cartoons sometimes.
25 | Learn to be alone.
Sometimes, college can be a lonely game, and you’ll realize that this time alone will be some of the most character-building moments of your life. It’s OK to be alone. You’ll learn a lot about yourself and who you are. Embrace these moments.
26 | You know yourself better than anyone else.
If you do your best work the night before something is due, don’t let people tell you that “you’re doing it wrong.” You know yourself well enough to know what study methods work best for you and which ones don’t. You got here for a reason. If that’s what works for you, then by all means, keep on keepin’ on.
Eliseo is freshman is FAA. He can be reached at [email protected]