When I started typing this article, I had so many things coming across my mind. As a current sophomore in college and only a mere 18 years old, it’s hard to think that in a short two years I’ll be thrown into the real world. (Yes, for clarification, I skipped a year due to credits. See one of my first articles, “The Secret To Getting 4 College Credits In 40 Minutes” so you can do the same!) If I could be reminded as to what college life would actually be like, preferably from somebody who has been through it all fairly recently, I would have loved that. But, being a first generation student and an only child, I can only take what I can get from my own experiences. If I can teach you anything from the time I’ve been at my current university, it’s these tips and tricks.
- Don’t be afraid to go out of your comfort zone. For the longest time, I stuck to befriending those who were most similar to the friends I parted ways with after high school. Big mistake. Especially after recruitment started, it was the beginning of my letting-go phase. I realized the reason why I no longer have hourly conversations with those who I did in high school, and I realized that sometimes change can be a good thing.
- People go to your school for all different reasons. Just last week I realized that my coworker, who I regularly attend meetings with, is 25 years old. 25. Also, he’s a junior in college, only one grade above me. You never know who you’ll run into in your lifetime, and stepping back and accepting the differences in why each student came to your school will open your eyes to more things than you ever thought possible.
- Nobody has the perfect college experience. In fact, there is no set “perfect” college experience. Hell, I anticipated becoming best friends with my roommate. Plot twist, ladies and gentleman. Things change. I anticipated spending four years at this university, soaking up every second that I thought I had with my sisters, colleagues, and friends. I ended up getting a reality check that told me I was graduating in a little over two years instead. Life throws curveballs at everybody, not just you.
- Don’t ever let anything get in the middle of your studies. I made this mistake my first semester of actually living at college, and let me tell you, it was probably the biggest mistake I’ll make in my college career. Being bogged down by various stressors in life will lead you to losing sight of the main picture, why you’re actually studying and living where you are. The main goal should be to never let anybody detract from your degree, which, at the end of the day, is why all of us are here.
- Your best friends in high school will not be the same best friends you graduate college with. Unfortunately, as time passes, as you get older, your childhood best friend that was by your side for over a decade will part ways with you, and you will start to distance yourself from him or her. This isn’t a bad thing, it only means that the friendship is stronger than you ever thought possible if you end up remaining the same amount of connection with one another. You’ll end up meeting people you connect with on a level that is unimaginable, and the thought of you both going into the real world and parting ways again will initially leave you in shambles.
- College is different for everybody, so is the idea of relationships. I came into my time here at UMass in a relationship. As good as it was for the time it lasted, it was very superficial, meaning that a lot of the time my friends would be living life as “single ladies” and I was pretending to be perfectly content with my tied-down lifestyle. If I could recommend anything to future college students, it’s that being in a relationship or not being in a relationship, it really all doesn’t matter. It’s all about maturity, and everybody has their different take on it.
- People will be a lot more accepting about your opinions and preferences. This year, I’ve revealed more about myself than I ever revealed to anybody in my lifetime. I realized some things about my life that are incredibly detrimental to my growth as a person, and how I view in the world. When you get to college, you’ll meet hundreds, even thousands of people that will love a difference in opinion, and will accept it with open arms. They’re not joking when they say that college is a time of finding yourself.
- Get out there and make yourself aware of your surroundings. Join a club that you never thought you’d want to join. Hell, I joined a sorority, a sisterhood of girls, after I grew up in an only-child setting. If you put your mind to it, you can carry these plans out. Maybe you’ll even find out you have a deeply rooted passion for the topic of that organization, and maybe you’ll even find your best friends in that organization.
- Change can be a great thing. I know in high school, when you break up with that guy, or when you find out you have to redo a class for graduation credits, it’ll seem like the change in your life is downright awful. Newsflash, everybody–life goes on. When I felt like seeking help for anxiety and depression at the time of moving out of my old dorm, I got a new roommate, who now, I view just as close as one of my sorority sisters. You’ll realize that the clock keeps ticking, regardless if you wish your hardest for it to stop, and it’s up to you to deal with how you handle each situation in life.
10. You are loved. Regardless if you’re coming from a breakup, or you’re figuring out who you want to be in life, you are loved by at least one person in life. This could be your parent, a random admirer in the back of your calculus lecture, or your best friend. In times of stress, this is something you need to remind yourself. Trust me, it helps.
As always, xoxo.