Moving out and moving away can be the most exciting or the most terrifying time of your life. If you feel a little of both, that’s normal. For many people, this is the first time they have lived away from their family,friends, and home. College is a very exciting time in your life but also stressful. For background purposes, I’m a non-traditional student and senior in college. I’m 23 years old and I have changed my major 3 times. This is more common than you think so don’t stress about that! Looking back, there are several things I wish someone would have told me about before going to college.
DISCLAIMER: I just want to say that these are my own personal experiences and my feelings. Not everyone will feel the same or have the same experiences.
Things I Wish I had Known:
1. Have an Open Mind
When you leave high school you are ready for more challenges and excitement! Sometimes this can give you a certain, “I maybe know it all” attitude. No one person’s life is the same which makes each of us unique. Having an open mind in college is very important. It encourages you to try new foods, learn about different cultures, go to school events, socialize with people you don’t know, and don’t hold back. You are the only you in the world so let yourself shine! Fear is the one thing in life that controls us to the point that it can hold us back. So don’t be so scared that you miss out on awesome opportunities!
2. Know How to Cook Basic Meals
My first year out of the house, I basically survived on junk food, microwaveable anything, and I was introduced to alcohol. Just remember that (beer = carbs and calories). Learn how to make some basic meals for yourself. Even if you live in the dorms and eat the majority of your meals at dinning centers, know how to make some basic meals. You will eventually move into an apartment and need to know how to feed yourself. After you have mastered going grocery shopping on your own, you could venture into meal prepping. Meal prepping allows you more time during the week to get stuff done my planning and cooking meals for the week in one day. Eating out everyday is too expensive!
3. Get Involved!
You will hear professors and advisers tell you all about on campus activities and clubs. You will grow tired of these speeches so just join one! It helps you to connect with classmates in your major and make friends. Joining a club on campus can also mean club sports if you are into that. I used to make excuses about why I wasn’t in a club. That I didn’t have time to join a club on campus because I also had a part-time job or I would rather be doing other things like watching Netflix.The truth is that I didn’t know how to manage my time. It’s something I’m still working on. It’s all a process, right?
My advice to you is to join at least one club related to your major and one for fun! You will make friends, network within your industry, and gain interpersonal skills that will set you apart when you start interviewing for jobs. It also looks good on your resume to show off that you did more than “just go to school”. Seriously, employers look at that stuff.
4. Know Your Campus
College campuses can be small but are usually quite big. Bigger than you think! Don’t be like me and miss all of your classes on the first day of school because you didn’t know where anything was. I was mortified! Most colleges have a guided tour for freshman showing them where everything is located on campus. I’m a non-traditional student so I wasn’t aware of these resources when I first arrived. Make the time to walk around your University or grab a friend and try to find your classrooms together.
5. Be Organized
Personally, I color code and plan out everything in a physical planner and on my phone. This way I always know where I need to be, at what time, and what school work needs to be done. If I plan out each day then I don’t have a pile of work to do in one day which can be super stressful. I am someone who needs a paper copy and digital copy of most things so I don’t lose anything. My advice is to do whatever it is that keeps you organized but have a system.
6. Time Management
Time management seems like a pretty straight forward and simple thing, right? For me, its not. I still struggle with this topic but I have come a long way since my first year in school. I used to put everything off until it was late or doing the day of. This made me feel really stressed out and anxious so I found a way of planning my time in smaller sections to avoid those feelings.
I write out a task list in priority of things I need to do each day. I make sure that each day is manageable and not overwhelming so its realistic. I also try to do my homework when it’s assigned instead of when it’s due to cut down on anxiety later. Everyday is different and some days require more of your time. All you can do is try your best everyday and make realistic expectations for yourself.
These have been just a few of my experiences and things I wish someone told me before my first year in college. Alas, that’s why we have the internet, right? I hope this has been helpful or at least entertaining. If you have any questions, please comment below!