It is already August and I know so many people are getting ready to begin one of the most exciting adventures of their lives! Back to school is such an exciting time and can be even more exhilarating when you are starting a whole knew chapter in your life. I loved college and there are certain things I did that made my experience so incredible. There are also some things I wish I had known before starting college. This list is actually kind of a mix of the things I did right and the things I wish I had known. I hope you find it useful and would love to hear your opinions and thoughts!
- Talk to everyone: This can be incredibly intimidating for many people but it is the easiest way to make friends, get to know your professors and meet business contacts. If you know you don’t like to talk to people there are ways to make it a little bit easier. Talking to peers in the first few weeks of school can actually be the best time because most people do not know each other so it is completely acceptable to ask where someone is from, what classes they are taking, what they might want to major in, etc. Getting used to speaking to professors can also be difficult but I highly recommend going into their office and asking questions, even if you do not necessarily have any. Just ask for clarifications on class material. Make sure they know who you are! I would say going in once a week is a good place to start. Throughout my four years of college I became friends with my professors which was incredibly beneficial for me.
- Take every opportunity you can get: Even other students at my own school asked me over and over how I was able to go so many places and do so many things. I took advantage of every opportunity that presented itself and went out of my comfort zone to do so. If a professor was taking a group of students on a short weekend trip I went, even if it meant missing out on some weekend relaxation and even if I knew nothing about the place we were going. I applied to many things even if I thought I wasn’t qualified for or that I wasn’t likely to get as a freshman (this seriously paid off!). On the academic side of things this one goes along with talking to your professors because I was offered lots of opportunities because I was engaged and frequently spoke to my professors.
- Know when to say no: Yes, I know, this is sort of contradictory but it is also so important to be able to say ‘no’. I got way two involved in so many different things in college during my first two years that by the time senior year came around I was beyond burnt out and I regret not spending more time with my friends. It can be really nice to be able to say yes to other things that pop up when your schedule has some built in free time. Some of the greatest memories I have are the unplanned adventures that popped up.
- Don’t stick to what is expected of you (by anyone): College is truly the time to try everything because you never know what you might fall in love with. I really wish I knew this before starting college because I definitely had it in my head that my parents had certain expectations of me and I followed one track in the first two years that I did not necessarily love. Because of this I soon felt like my professors, friends and even myself expected a certain level and a certain path. I wish I had been way more open because as I started to try other things around junior year I realized how much more is out there and how many other interests I had.
- Leave high school behind: Seriously, college is so much better without all the drama of high school. I think one reason that sometimes freshmen are looked down upon is because they are still partially high schoolers and there is definitely a difference. Leave the drama. Don’t get me wrong, there will be drama in college however people seem to deal with it very differently and in more adult ways. The first year can be a lot more fun if you do not play into at all. Just meet knew people, focus on school and get involved with extracurriculars. If you do not like who you were or how people perceived you in high school, college is a chance to completely start over. I believe in staying true to who you are, but people definitely change and you may not really be who many people in high school thought you were.