Congrats to all you 2017 seniors! You made it through high school, and are now onto the next step in your education: college. You’ve probably heard lots of good and bad things, and that’s okay. Here are some things people might not have told you that I think are important to know:
- Don’t take that 8am class. You just graduated high school, so you’re probably used to waking up at 5:30-6am to get to school on time. You did it every day, so why not take the 8am? That’ll be so easy cause you’ll still be able to sleep in! ROOKIE MISTAKE. Do not sign up for that class unless it is the only time that class is offered (yes that happens). You will not want to wake up that early to sit in a classroom, trust me.
- Don’t skip class. Even if attendance isn’t taken for a grade (which I don’t think it should be), you should still go to class. This isn’t high school where you won’t be able to go to homecoming or prom for missing classes too much, however there’s a direct correlation in people who pass/fail and how often they were in class. You are paying for college, or at least someone is, so don’t waste the money. Invest in your own education, it’s the only thing you have.
- Know your professors outside of class. Your professors are people too, they don’t just lecture you on boring stuff. They have to have office hours even if no one comes by. Visit your professor’s office, have a chat with them, ask them how their day is. Believe it or not, it’ll get you a long way. Remember how you skipped class cause you were too hungover to attend? Well your attendance grade at the end of the semester is still 100%. You had an 89.4 in the class, but somehow your final grade says A. You’d be amazed at how far talking to your professors will get you.
- Learn how to manage your money. You’re probably either getting money from your family, or you’re about to get a job in the town you’re in. Either way, learning to manage your money is important. Even if you have no actual “bills” to pay (lucky), you still should budget. You’re going to have to buy food of some sort (you’ll get tired of eating in the dining hall all day every day), you’re going to buy necessities, you’re going to need gas if you have a car, and I’m sure you’re going to buy alcohol. To make your money last a long way, budget. Estimate how much you’ll spend on each of those things and see how that correlates to the income you receive.
- Don’t party ALL the time. You’re in college so you’re obviously going to go out. Just make sure you keep a healthy balance, because you don’t want your grades to drop. If you’re always too hungover to go to class, that’s not something you want to keep up with. Save your going out for the weekends, be smart about it, and make sure that you’re still keeping up with your studies, work, social life, etc.
- Be safe. You always hear these horror stories about college parties or college in general. You might not think these things will happen to you, but always be aware of your surroundings. If you’re out at a party, never leave your drink unattended. If you’re walking around, hold your drink so your palm is covering the top. Never go out by yourself, always have friends with you (going out alone is boring anyways). Make sure to always have condoms, cause guys think that if they don’t bring one, it’s a free pass. If you’re aware of your surroundings and the present moment, you have a higher chance of being able to avoid any troubles or issues.
- It’s okay to be by yourself. College is a time for finding yourself. You’re away from your family, your friends, and your typical environment. You’re in this new place that you haven’t been to before, and you have to learn to adapt. It’s okay to be by yourself. You’ll learn how to be independent and do things on your own. You’ll find things out about yourself that you weren’t aware even existed before. Don’t feel like you always have to be with people all the time, take time for yourself.
- It’s okay to be undecided on your major. You don’t have to enter college knowing everything you want to do with your life. You’re most likely spending the first year or two taking all of your general education requirements anyways. You have plenty of time to figure things out, don’t rush yourself. Saying that, it’s also okay if you change your major. Maybe you took a class and it made you realize you didn’t want to do that for the rest of your life. Better to find out now than too late. Take your time, you’re planning the rest of your life (or at least trying to). Do what makes you happy.
- Make sure to keep up with yourself. College is a busy busy busy time and place. There’s always things to do, sometimes it can be hard to remember to keep up with yourself. Check on your mental health every now and then, don’t less the stress overpower your body. Make sure to keep up with your physical health as well. The freshman 15 is real, don’t let it catch you by surprise. Take some time for yourself, go to the gym, go to yoga, sit in a therapy session, there’s so many options on campus; find one that suits you the best.
- You’re not alone. Everyone here understands what you’re going through. You’re never the only one; we’ve all been there. Late nights, early mornings, sleeping between classes, living off food in the vending machine, and depending on Starbucks. We all get it. Build yourself a support system and share your experiences. You’re never alone, so don’t force yourself to be.
I wish all of you the absolute best of luck in all your future endeavors. I’m sure you’ll do great and accomplish many things. Stay true to yourself, and know what you can take. You were at the top of the food chain in high school, now you’re at the bottom again. So take a deep breath, get involved, make friends, and enjoy the perks of being in college; it’ll get you through all the rough times.