Seeing that most colleges started school this week, I thought I’d put together a list of advice for college students based off the lessons I learned in hopes of encouraging them to make the most of the time they’ve been given.
I think we all know college is SUPER FUN…but we often forget that it’s preparing us for the rest of our lives. The choices we make between 18-22 play a huge role in the person we’re becoming.
In other words, college PUTS US TO THE TEST.
Not only does it challenge our brains and smarts, but it challenges our beliefs, our dreams and passions, our discipline, our courage, our character, our personality, and so many other vital aspects that make up our being.
So here is my advice for college students. Basically, this is a list of things I wish I had known walking into, and through, college. This is what I would’ve told my 18-year-old self.
- Go to class. You are literally in college to get an education. If you don’t do it for yourself, do it for whoever is paying your way through college. Also, STUDENT LOANS ARE REAL so keep that in mind.
- Take notes for Pete’s sake. Don’t be that kid. DON’T BE A MOOCHER. Eventually, people catch on.
- Get to know some of your classmates. You don’t have to know all of them, but at least get to know the ones in close proximity. It’s unreal the connections you make and the things you learn from the people sitting right across from you!
- Don’t ditch studying. Do the best you can to pass the first time around.
- Rent your textbooks…especially if you’re like me and only plan on using them a few times. Let’s be honest, you may have good intentions at the beginning of the school year but, chances are, this semester is going to be just like last semester. If you didn’t read your textbooks for your last class, you’re probably not going to read them for the next class. Don’t spend $298043194 on a textbook you’ll only open 3 times.
- Get the hard classes out of the way ASAP. You don’t want to be miserable and MIA your last year/semester of college. Save the best classes with the best professors for last if you can. I promise you won’t regret it. Also, Geology is NOT rocks for jocks. Take it at your own risk.
Don’t settle for a major you hate simply because it’ll make you the big bucks. You can’t place monetary value on your dreams and passions. Happiness is doing what you love and what you’re good at.
- Check your emails daily, and respond in a timely manner. If you do it now, you’ll do it later. I know how annoying emails can be. We only received like 2384148901 each day. You won’t hate them near as much if you keep up with them and check them frequently. I used to think, “I will NEVER be the email-type” and yet, here I am, emailing everybody for everything.
- You want to wear the same outfit you wore yesterday? DO IT.
- Don’t wear swim shoes to class when it’s raining. It may sound like a good idea in your head, but it’s not. It’s probably the worst idea ever. Buy a cheap pair of rain boots instead.
- Take summer classes if you can. Nowadays, you almost HAVE to take summer classes in order to stay on/ahead of schedule. Even if it’s just one class — that’s one less class you have to worry about.
- Don’t ever let a professor crush your dreams or belittle your ambitions. Two of my professors ATTEMPTED this with me (but failed miserably), and I’ve witnessed a professor do it to a classmate of mine…in front of the whole class. NOT COOL; NOT OKAY. Professors may know a lot, but they don’t know everything, and they sure don’t know everything about you and what you’re capable of.
- Get plugged in immediately. The sooner you get involved, the sooner you’ll find community. You don’t have to join every organization…just find one or two you think you’ll like. And, if you end up not liking them later, no worries. Find another.
DO NOT JOIN AN ORGANIZATION JUST BECAUSE IT WILL LOOK GOOD ON YOUR RESUME. Repeat after me: IT IS NOT WORTH IT. You will get A HECK OF A LOT MORE out of an organization you LOVE and are really involved in than an organization you HATE (or don’t really enjoy) and are rarely involved in.
- Also, if an organization is no longer fulfilling your needs or if you’d rather devote the majority of your time to a different organization, it’s okay to choose between the two. The world will not end. You will not get struck by lightning.
- Many (but definitely not all) organizations are all about politics. That’s just part of life. The best person for the position will not always be chosen. My advice? Don’t complain about a situation if you’re not willing to do something about it.
- Join an organization you’re passionate about! This is so important. You will literally have HUNDREDS of organizations to choose from (Texas A&M had a ridiculous amount…like 800 something). So, the odds of you finding an organization you’ll love are pretty good.
- If you’re going to be in an organization, then really BE IN IT. Don’t stay in it because you feel obligated. If you’re not pouring your heart into it, you’re wasting everybody’s time. Trust me. I’ve been there. If you feel any hesitation going in, take a step back and reevaluate why you’re wanting/not wanting to be in the organization.
- You have to put yourself out there. You have to make friends in order to find your best friends. Try not to get discouraged if you’ve made a lot of good friends but haven’t made any best friends. I didn’t meet my best friends until my second year at Texas A&M…and they were well worth the wait!
- You most likely won’t end college with the same friends you began college with…and that’s okay!
You’re going to lose touch with a lot of your high school friends. And yes, even the ones you thought you’d always be friends with. That’s okay, too. You are all growing and changing and becoming who you truly are…this means letting go of friendships that are no longer doing for you what they’ve always done. This isn’t a bad thing. It’s just a fact of life.
- Be picky about your squad. Your inner circle should ONLY be filled with people who love you, inspire you, encourage you, support you, make you want to be a better person, invest in you, treat you right, hold you accountable, and bring out the best in you. The older you get, the smaller your inner circle becomes, but narrowing down your circle and really pinning down the members of your tribe is a blessing and something to be excited about.
- Own up for your mistakes. Know that you’re not perfect and you’re going to do the wrong thing sometimes. We are all a work in progress. Forgive yourself and do your best to make right of what is left of what you did wrong.
Make the most of being single. Don’t become obsessed with meeting your husband/wife in college. Although a lot of people do, there are also a lot of people who don’t. It doesn’t mean you’re cursed or that you’re the worst. Seriously…and don’t ever let anyone make you feel as if you’ve failed because you didn’t graduate college with a boyfriend/girlfriend. Life happens differently for different people.
- Don’t forget about your parents, family, and loved ones. Go visit them or call them when you can. Let them know you’re thinking about them, or that you miss them. They miss you, too.
- DISCOVER YOURSELF. Figure out what YOU believe, the type of person YOU want to be, what YOUR passions are, what YOU want in a relationship/friendship, how YOU want to be treated. This is YOUR time. You can choose to be whoever and whatever you want to be. Make sure you’re proud of the person you’re becoming.
- Don’t be afraid to switch churches later on if you feel the one you’re attending isn’t providing the spiritual growth you need. Even if that means not going to the church everybody else is going to. Same goes for Bible study. Do what’s best for you.
- Put your phone down and be fully present. Don’t walk across campus or eat dinner with friends or sit on the bus with your face glued to your cellphone. Bless. Don’t miss out on what’s going on around you. Make eye contact with people and smile. Say hi (or “Howdy!”) to them. People are important and should be treated as such.
- Set goals for yourself, and achieve them. They can be little goals, or big goals, or in-between goals…always be working towards something.
Breathe. The world is not going to end if you don’t know exactly what you want to do after college. You’re not doomed if you don’t have it all planned out. Besides, plans often change (mine sure did). Consider your options and take it one day at a time. Know that it’s okay to take a different path than most people.
- Be selfish sometimes. You can’t please everybody, so do what makes you happy and what’s best for you…not what will make other people happy. Do what will make YOU happy. You’ll disappoint some people. They’re going to be mad and they’re going to try and manipulate you because your decision no longer serves them. Do it anyway.
- Ask more questions. You may be thinking, “Shouldn’t that go under the school category?” Well, sure, I think it’s good to ask questions in class…but I think it’s better to ask questions in life. Why do you believe the way you do? Why do you want to (insert dream job here)? What do you hope to get out of life? Why don’t you agree with that statement? You can tell a lot about a person by the questions they ask. Don’t be too quick to do or believe or feel the same way everyone else does.
- Be yourself and embrace your uniqueness. Don’t pretend to be someone you’re not. If you don’t like country dancing, don’t go country dancing. Don’t like drinking? Then don’t drink. If you don’t like reading, don’t read. Be your own person. Seriously. Like what YOU like, love what YOU love, do what YOU do.
- Soak it all up and enjoy every minute of it. Make memories, laugh, cry, sing, dance, and cheer for your team. Get in prank wars and make overalls and go pond-hopping. Make sure you graduate college without any regrets. Give it everything you’ve got!