Lately, I’ve been living vicariously through my younger sister’s experience of starting college. I think it’s safe to say that after graduating we all start to miss those college years. Fall starts and you can practically smell football season in the air. College was definitely one of the most defining moments of my life thus far, but there are a few things I wish I had known before I started to really make the most out of this time. For anyone that’s about to embark on this four-year journey, here’s what I wish someone had told me then:
1. Take a ton of pictures, but don’t publicize it all. Trust me, everyone will be thankful the next morning, or years down the road, that someone took pictures, but that doesn’t mean they should all live on social media, either.
2. Get experience everywhere you can. It’s getting harder to find the job of your dreams after graduating. Make sure you get as many internships or relevant temporary jobs as possible.
3. Run for leadership positions. Leadership positions are a great way of making your resume sparkle coming out of college and it puts you in a prime position to meet more people in the university.
4. Network. Network. Network. Speaking of meeting people, make sure you put yourself out there. The people you’ll know in college will likely be the LinkedIn connections you reach out to for referrals in the future.
5. Arrange your classes wisely. Look up the professors and strategically organize your week so you have time for other things. Also, make sure you save some of those bullshit classes for later on in your college career when you really need them as a buffer.
6. Work out and twerk out. Somehow it gets a lot harder to stay in shape after college, so start the habit now. Take your hangover to the elliptical and grab a gym buddy for those classes. Keep fit and active while you have the energy and time.
7. Be stronger than temptation. You don’t have to say yes to everything because not everything is worth trying – you decide what’s worth it and what’s not. Be strong enough to say no and come to terms with your decision.
8. Beware of mystery solo cups. Not only are they likely filled with a hangover cocktail, but always be weary of who’s handing the drink if you didn’t watch them pour it.
9. Invest in phone insurance. This is college. It’s almost a right of passage to drop/shatter your phone or get it “stolen out of your bag” at the club (when we all know you just left it somewhere).
10. Stay open to new things. This is the time to experiment outside of your comfort zone. Go on that spontaneous road trip or on a date with the guy who’s not really your type. The unexpected things are usually the best things.
11. Rise above gossip and politics. College is one huge competition, but you have to be smart enough to rise above the pettiness. Don’t give into the gossip and chatter because none of that will matter once you graduate.
12. Work hard but play harder. Take advantage of the wealth of information and take your classes seriously. At the same time, know that there is more to learn about life than what textbooks can teach you.
13. Nurture meaningful relationships. Support the friends that stay out with you until dawn and stay in with you for the awful break up. Be there and learn from each other. Hold onto the ones that you know will continue to change your life for the better.
14. Take advantage and don’t take anything for granted. A Netflix binge is great every once in a while, but it isn’t memories you’ll remember later in your twenties. Use up the time with laughter, dance sessions, tailgates, and overwhelming amounts of food that are temporarily acceptable. Take advantage of all of it – including the hangovers and all-nighters.
15. Don’t neglect your family. Call your mom, dad, grandpa, or dog to tell them you’re alive, and go home when you can because you’ll miss the capability to do it as easily once you hit the real world.
16. Be okay with not being okay. You’re going to fuck up in college. You’ll probably fuck up a lot, honestly. Be okay with that, because everything is a learning experience and it’ll probably be one hell of a story anyway.
17. Don’t forget that you are amazing. You do know you’re amazing, don’t you? Don’t let yourself lose sight of this. You are more incredible than you let yourself believe.
18. Embrace happiness. This is quite honestly the time of our lives, and a period you’ll always look back on. Let that soak in. Be happy for it. Laugh too loud. Dance too hard. Smile too much. Live boldly.
19. Stay true to yourself. It’s easy to get sucked into various personalities in college, but don’t ever overlook who you truly are. Watch that person only grow into someone wilder, fiercer, and smarter than the one who first walked through those orientation doors.
20. Know that you are always enough. No matter what any frat boy, college professor, rival sorority girl, or project group leader will tell you, you are and will always be enough.