It’s no cliché that college goes by fast, but so does that first post-grad year. As graduation for my alma mater is practically days away, I realize that I will soon have been out of college for an entire year. For me, college was inspiring, challenging, and fulfilling. Maybe you feel the same. I fell in love, met some of my best friends, and ironically made the Dean’s List during some of my most difficult semesters. I realized that I am definitely not a morning person (that 8 AM class was problematic), find sociology fascinating, and could manage stress a lot better. The following seven things I’ve learned not in one particular class, but in the experience of it all. If I could go back in time, here’s what I’d tell my former college self:
No. 1: Make the time for office hours.
Whether you need help tidying up that thesis statement or want some advice on how to go about studying for that infamously-difficult exam, these hours are pure gold. Often, your professors will guide you in a helpful direction and even offer a few book sources to eliminate an extra hour searching through the stacks. If you set aside time for office hours, your grades will without-a-doubt benefit. And that professor you thought was intimidating? They might actually turn out to be your favorite.
No. 2: Your metabolism will never be as good as it is now.
Enjoy pigging out on those post-party frozen pizzas, pints of Ben & Jerry’s (eaten in one sitting), and countless red Solo cups of crappy keg beer while you still can! While the guilty pleasures of college won’t necessarily stop being enjoyable, you’ll notice you can’t get away with this carefree diet as easily post-grad. And those once non-existent hangovers? Chances are, they’ll gradually get worse. Find a consistent exercise routine (use that gym!) in college that can effectively transition into your post-grad life. This will assure you’re not constantly idolizing the past (#tbt after #tbt), but rather living happy and healthy in your current life.
No. 3: Go to the dining hall, even if you don’t have someone to sit with.
College is a much more accepting environment than high school, so doing things on your own is totally normal. Long gone is the “loner” persona. You may feel inclined to wait for friends who are still in class, but realize that you don’t need a “squad” for every meal of the day. Once you get past the fear or uncomfortability of eating by yourself, you’ll realize being independent is a valuable part of being a mature adult. This is not to say eat alone always or avoid social interaction, but don’t always plan around your friends’ schedules.
No. 4: Just as you will outgrow romantic relationships, you will outgrow friendships, too. That’s okay!
Why? Because a good number of the friends you make in college will be there at the end of your four or so years (and beyond). It’s been said that you are the average of the five people you surround yourself with, so you should choose wisely. College truly is a place where you can choose your friends; you’ll really understand this come post-grad when your circle fluctuates. The environment makes it easy to meet so many awesome people and while it’s sort of a given that many of these acquaintances will come and go, you really should cherish each and every friendship, short-lived or lasting. By the end of college, you’ll really know who is there for you by knowing your worth as a friend and spending time with people who do, too. They’re the ones who enrich your life in new ways. They’re one of the first people you call when you’ve got news, good or bad, and you couldn’t possibly stay mad at them. They held your hair when you weren’t at your finest and they brought you comfort during that breakup. They gave you that brutally-honest-but-totally-neccessary advice. They’re the ones you share all those inside jokes with and they stuck with you through that epic all-nighter. They had a glass of wine waiting for you after that final, just because, and they don’t judge that face you make when taking shots. They’re the ones you looked forward to seeing after a long winter’s break and the ones you know you can trust with your deepest secrets or insecurities. They’re the ones you can envision in your wedding. They’re even the ones you may not see as often, but feel as though time had stood still when you reconnect again. They’re your wing-woman/man, partner-in-crime, and biggest fan, as are you to them. When you look back on your college experience, you’ll notice many of your favorite memories were shared with them by your side. They will be the ones you continue to make new memories with post-grad.
No. 5: Don’t download apps like Yik Yak.
At my small college, this app was popular (it allows people to post anonymously), but it was one that made college feel a whole lot like high school. Why would you want that kind of drama in your adult life? For the most part, it’s a combination of immaturity, cyberbullying, and quite possibly, people’s boredom. Even if you don’t have plans of posting anything and simply want to give into your curiosities, there’s a chance some unhappy soul will write something about you or your friends. You definitely don’t need that kind of negativity in your life, so avoid it altogether. Haters gonna hate.
(Update: According to my sources, Yik Yak is no more; however, I wouldn’t be surprised if another similar app surfaces soon. Although not 100% comparable, “subtweeting” on Twitter can be another form of this type of drama.)
No. 6: Utilize your student ID for discounts!
While many places advertise student discounts, there are a number that will apply a discount only after you’ve asked. Always ask and keep your ID on hand! For example, you can save $100 on a MacBook and other laptops/tablets at Best Buy simply by providing your student email. While this discount doesn’t drastically improve your overall expense, it’s $100 saved that could definitely be used elsewhere! Other places that offer decent discounts include Amazon, Jiffy Lube, Topshop, Eddie Bauer, Banana Republic, J. Crew, and Kate Spade, as well as various museums and movie theaters in your area. And if you’re like me – 22 going on 17 – you can probably get away with using your student ID long after you graduate.
No. 7: Be grateful for any romantic relationships, rather than have regret.
While it would be nice to meet “the one” and never have to play “the game” ever again, chances are you’ll kiss more prince-disguised frogs than actual princes. Be grateful for those past relationships; they can help show you what do and don’t want in future relationships. Also, they may have brought more positivity into your life than you’re giving them credit for, so don’t be so quick to write them off as a regret, mistake or failure. Listen to the song “We Got It Right” by Old Dominion; it puts into perspective the idea that while the relationship may not have stood the test of time, it was perfect for that time in your life. You take valuable life lessons from each and every relationship, so there’s no need for romantic regret. It’s a waste of energy that could be used elsewhere…like realizing the most difficult or unfair things that happen in our lives actually put us directly on the path to far better things. Cheers to living, loving, and learning along the way!
What is something you would tell your former college self if you had the chance?