15 Things I Wish I Knew Before I Started College | College
Before I started college I had no idea what I was getting myself into. During my senior year of high school I just thought applying to college was the next step. I didn’t know anything about applying for scholarships, joining organizations, finding a mentor, or anything to do with the experience. I just thought that all I had to do was make good grades to keep my GPA afloat, get my degree and be done. My first few semesters I was just floating through college confused.
After graduating from a junior college and transferring to a university I soon realized that there was way more than just getting the grades to get the degree. There was networking, internships, organizations, and many other things that go along with the experience. Going into college not knowing much there were a lot of things that I wish I knew beforehand that I either learned a little too late or as I went through my experience.
Here are 15 things I wish I knew before I started college:
1. Be Proactive
College is not like high school you don’t have you parents and teachers making sure you’re staying on track. It’s all on you so make sure to be proactive! Not just with your classes, but with everything. If you already set goals for your college career it’s up to you to make them happen. You want to have a certain GPA by the time you graduate, go on that study abroad trip, or be in that organization then you know what you have to do. Go to offices to ask questions to gather that information. Attend the organization events get to know the members let them know who you are. Don’t wait to last minute for anything because deadlines will pass, spots will get filled, and GPAs will drop if you aren’t staying ahead. Don’t expect things to just magically happen for you.
2. Getting involved will enhance your experience
If you just go to class and go to your room chances are your college experience won’t be as fulfilling. What I mean by getting involved enhances you experience is that a lot of things will be revealed to you. Until I started getting involved in organizations and councils I didn’t know about many of the resources that were offered on campus. I also met a lot of administration and faculty/staff that helped better my experience. I was able to be mentored and was often emailed opportunities for upcoming events/jobs. You never know what doors can open when you get involved.
3. There’s literally resources For EVERYTHING!
There are departments for almost every possible thing you need in college. Some departments are tucked away in a back corner and you’ll never know they were there, but they are. Check your university website to see what departments are available to provide the resources you’re looking for. Along with on campus resources, there are also online as well. Even your peers can be a resource too. Do your research ask around and you’ll most likely find what you’re looking for.
4. When you get that gnawing feeling that there’s something due…
There’s something due! Don’t ignore the feeling, don’t brush it off like it’s no big deal, acknowledge it and get it out the way. And if it’s just a false alarm after checking, well it’s better to feel relieved than anxious, right? Just make sure to make those deadlines because some professor aren’t so lenient when those assignments close.
5. 8 a.m. and 9 a.m. classes WILL find you
You may think you’re avoiding them in the beginning, but there will be that one semester where you have to give in. Honestly, once you get in a routine of waking up for that class it isn’t so hard. Just do it and get it out the way especially if there’s no way out of it.
6. It will fly by so live it up
Now when I say “live it up” don’t take things too far. Have some sort of discernment. If you know you have that paper due at 11:59 or that 8 a.m. class, stay in sis it’s not worth it. What I mean by “live it up” is take those chances on yourself and don’t be afraid to step out of your comfort zone. You only have so many years of undergrad before you’re packing up your dorm/apartment to head to your next destination. Make those years count.
7. TV/Movies LIED
Anything you saw on the big screen or in your own home scratch it out of your head now. Yes, certain things from TV shows and movies do occur, but don’t go into college expecting it to be exactly how you saw it. Sure some people find the love of their life and there will be unforgettable moments, but don’t get disappointed when your experience isn’t like A Different World or Drumline. Make your own experiences and live in the moment.
8. TALK to your professors
I don’t mean just about your assignments. Ask for advice on anything you need. Nine times out of ten when you get to your upper division courses you’ll have some professors multiple times. Even if you don’t, still talk to them. They are the ones who have career advice, college advice, life advice. Remember they were once in your shoes so don’t be afraid to start up quick conversation. You never know you can end up having a mentor(s) or getting that letter of recommendation you need in the future.
While going through college just remember Murphy’s Law, “anything that can go wrong, WILL go wrong”. And trust me it will, sometimes even at the worst possible moment. You don’t want go around idling in college and then trying to do all your work or studying last minute. Waiting until last minute can screw you over. So prioritize and be prepared! You know you don’t need to go to every event or hang out with friends every night. You came to college for many things, but mainly for that degree. Whatever you have to put at the bottom of your priority list, or even take off the list completely, do it. You don’t want your GPA or entire college experience suffering in the end.
10. Save your money because there will be plenty of rainy days
I didn’t really have problems with this because I’ve always saved money, but there were times where things took me by surprise. The amount of times I checked my portal and had fees that left me shook were one too many. There were times I had to pay for classes, textbooks, to fix my laptop, buy a new phone, etc. Remember… Murphy’s Law. So if you’re blessed enough to receive that beautiful refund check or have a job, stash some money to the side as a safety net.
11. Don’t force anything
Friendships, relationships, going out to parties when you know you’re an introvert… it’s not worth it. If doors are being closed on you whether it be not getting a position in an organization, having fall outs with people, having to give some things up, there’s always somethings better for you. Anything not worth the hassle you shouldn’t stress over because chances are you’re already stressed enough with school.
12. Try To Be As Minimal With Your Dorm Stuff
You do not, I repeat, you do not want to struggle every move-in/move-out day. Move-in/move-out were probably the two days I dreaded the most, other than finals. I would say when you go shopping for dorm stuff everything you think you need you most likely won’t. Create a list of important items and grab those first then see what decorative items you can add in. If you pick up items and question when are you ever going to use it or say that you might need it, then you probably don’t.
13. A lot of places and apps give student discounts
When you walk up to that cashier don’t be afraid to ask if wherever they’re working offers college discounts. Another way to save some coins. Also there are apps like Hulu, Spotify, Amazon, Groupon, and many more that offer college students deals. Here’s a list of a good amount of places and apps that college students should check out.
14. It’s never too early for an internship
Don’t think just because you’re a freshman or sophomore and just getting started that it’s too early to apply for internships. The best thing you can do during your first two years is get an internship that has to do with your major to see if it’s really what you want to do. The more experience you gain in college the better. Building those connections with people in the field can open many doors when you’re getting ready to graduate. Also when you finish your internship make sure to stay in touch with the company if you enjoyed your time working there. Another thing don’t turn down an internship just because it’s unpaid if you can get the experience that you want.
15. There’s almost always somewhere cheaper
Before you buy any textbooks, laptops, supplies from your campus store(s) check to see if there are places that sell certain items cheaper or have discounts. Amazon, Chegg, Wal-Mart, etc. These are just a few places to check along with convenient stores around your area. This will help you keep some extra change in your pocket for other things.