This time 10 years ago I was heading back to college to start my sophomore year. I was heading back to a school that I no longer wanted to attend, but didn’t get my act together as far as transferring goes, in time for the start of the school year. I had every intention of leaving the school to attend another school closer to home, but because I didn’t get transcripts and things in order, I had to stick out one more semester and I’m glad I did, but sometimes I wish I hadn’t left.
There are a few things I learned during my time at college that, had I been told before hand I probably wouldn’t have believed or listened, but honestly you’ll miss out on a lot of things and have a lot of regrets if you don’t listen.
10. Don’t sit in your dorm room all day every day. I know there are times when you want to just hang out by yourself in your room, or nobody else is around, but don’t spend every waking moment in your room. It doesn’t even matter if you’re just going over and hanging out in someone else’s room down the hall, just don’t spend all your time in your room. And if you live in the dorms leave your door wide open. We had such a great floor my freshman year because everyone made an effort to be social within the floor. Everyone’s doors were open at all times (unless they were studying) and it made for a much better experience. You’ll drive yourself crazy if you sit in your room all day.
9. Don’t bring a car your freshman year. This one isn’t as important as the others, but you will get stuck driving everyone around and if you have a car there it only means that you have that chance of driving drunk and killing yourself or someone else, if you don’t have a car you can’t drive anywhere.
8. Don’t take your high school mentality to college with you. Be true to yourself, but if you were an asshole in high school or had a chip on your shoulder, it’s time to grow up. Nobody knows you from high school, nobody cares that you were the quarterback of the football team or the head cheerleader. Just be yourself and be who you want to be… if that person is an asshole, well, then you’ve got bigger problems. Once you leave high school, leave all the baggage that came with it at home, nobody gives a shit about it at college.
7. Do not take a year off in between high school and college. As much as you’d love to “take a year off of school”, there’s a good chance that you will never be motivated to go back and actually get your degree. Just suck it up and go through it. It’s not like high school, it’s not that bad, and you’ll be much happier being done with college at 22 (depending on your degree) than being the 30 year old freshman. Plus, if you put it off for a year or 10, you’re going to forget most of the things you learned in high school so getting through the college classes are going to be that much more difficult.
6. Don’t come out of college with tons of debt. I understand that not everyone can afford to go to college and student loans are a great way to help with that, but please look into government grants and programs that will give you free money without having to repay them before you get student loans. And if you do need to get student loans use that money ONLY FOR SCHOOL. Do not take any excess money and blow it partying or what not during college. If you’re that strung up for spending money, get a job around campus. Also, do not sign up for credit cards while in college, not a single one. If you want to build your credit, have your parents get a credit card with you, so both your names are on the account, and cut up your card, but let them use theirs. This will help build your credit without you getting into huge credit card debt. The last thing you want to do when you get out of college is have to repay 10’s of thousands of dollars in debt because you were buying everyone at the bar shots. Majority of people these days are going to come out of college with some debt, just don’t let it be more than it has to be. If need be, go to a community college for 2 years and get all your gen eds out of the way for significantly less money and then transfer into a 4 year school to finish out your major.
5. Don’t worry about a major in the beginning. This is one that really screwed me in the end. I really didn’t know what I wanted to major in at college, but I really liked computers so I figured computer science would be a good fit for me. Well considering I hate math (aside from geometry) and hate coding, I honestly don’t know why I thought it would be a good fit. I guess when I say I “like” computers I’m saying I like fixing them, building them, trouble shooting them, stuff like that. I never liked programming so that was a dumb choice, but I ended up taking a bunch of classes for the major right away so when I changed majors none of those classes mattered and all I really did was set myself back. My recommendation is to take all your gen eds first and then decide what you really want to do. Things change, hell I’ve been out of college for over 7 years now and I still don’t know what I want to do. Ok, that’s not 100% true. I know I like writing on this blog and writing in general, I’m just not sure I can make a living off of it right now, but I’m trying.
4. Don’t overwork yourself. I know that college is going to help you get a good job in life and be successful, but don’t waste your entire college life studying. Personally this wasn’t a problem for me, but I know a lot of people who didn’t enjoy college because they were constantly worried about tests and grades. At the same time though, don’t waste your time in college. You are there to get an education so do go to class and do pass the classes, just don’t stress out over every little thing all the time. Once you get to college you’ll realize that class schedules aren’t the same as high school so you’ll have a lot of free time, so just use that time wisely and you should be able to balance the workload as well as have a great time.
3. Do not go into college looking for a boyfriend/girlfriend. To a lesser extent I would also say don’t go into college with a boyfriend/girlfriend, but I didn’t so I won’t comment. What I did do was meet a girl within the first couple months of being there and we started dating. Don’t get me wrong she was great, but no matter what people say relationships change you. I could tell I wasn’t quite as fun as I was the first half of the semester, wasn’t going out as much, basically I was pussy whipped and it was stupid. We dated for a few months and broke up, but by that point I had wasted a good chunk of my freshman year on a relationship that went nowhere. Do yourself a favor and wait at least until your sophomore year to get into a relationship. Freshman year everything is new and you’re fresh out of high school so guess what, you’re still going to be dating the same people from high school, nobody has matured quite yet, give it time.
2. Do things you want to do. If there’s an event or something happening at school, or a club meeting, or whatever it is, do it. Don’t not go because none of your friends are going, you’ll make some new friends that share a similar interest. I know it’s hard to just make friends, but in college, especially freshman year, everyone is in the same boat so take advantage.
1. Don’t room with a friend from high school. I roomed with a good friend from high school our freshman year at college and we had a blast. You’re probably asking yourself why I’m telling you not to live with a friend if we had such a good time. While we did have a good time together I feel like living with someone else would have given us the opportunity to branch out a bit more. I actually have the same feeling about living with a friend from high school after I moved back home to finish out college. It was fun for a while, but there are always little things that are going to annoy you, and the fact that you’ve been friends for so long will make it harder for you to get out of the situation until it’s too late. We actually both ended up getting single rooms for our sophomore year, but mainly because I knew I was leaving and it was just easier that way. So seriously consider not living with a friend at college and instead just try to get onto the same floor as your friend. You’ll instantly make a new friend (hopefully) in your new roommate, yet still have the comfort of knowing at least one person on the floor. The guy I roomed with that year is still one of my best friends to this day and had we lived together all 4 years in college that, I’m not sure that would still be the case.
Take from this what you will, but either way enjoy your college years. They go by a lot faster than high school did and once they’re over all that’s left is the real world. And believe me, it doesn’t get much better than college.