Things I wish I understood earlier in college

July 16, 2019



In two year's time, when I graduate from college, I will probably increase this list tenfold. There is so much to learn in these four years that it's difficult to narrow down what I wish I would have understood from senior year of high school to the end of my sophomore year.

These aren't just the typical  "your friends will change" and "your relationship won't last" because I've seen instances where friends never changed and relationships thrived. Neither of those things are true for me as my entire friend group (thankfully) changed and my high school relationship (thankfully) ended--I say thankfully because it would have been much harder to grow and develop if they hadn't changed and ended.

In the end, college is all about you getting to know what you really like and who you really like. Sometimes you'll need to be a little selfish to ensure that you stay on your track or you get out of your current track, and there's nothing wrong with that as long as you're happy, healthy, and on a good path.

You don't have to wait--for anything.
I always wanted to wait to take my harder courses, wait to apply for internships, wait to find ways to enter my career all because I thought I wasn't prepared. Plot twist, you are prepared. You are just as prepared as anyone else trying to enter your field. Courses and internships are meant for people learning how to exist in a field. And you can always find small ways to better prepare yourself for graduation.

I started freelance editing because my goal is to work in book publishing. Right now, I'm developing relationships with publishers and authors who will help me learn as I help them with their writing. That's me and my goal, I understand you can't just walk into a hospital and say you're a doctor. But there are always internships and volunteer positions for almost any field, it just takes some searching--your school can help with that!

Please follow all your routine medical procedures & understand your health insurance.
You have to get the flu shot. You just have to. Missing classes in college because you were out sick with the flu is very different from missing classes in high school. It's harder than you can imagine to catch up--sometimes impossible. Along with this, follow all your preventative care. For women, at age 21 it's time to start getting pap smears and it's always a good idea to do an STD test!

As far as health insurance goes, make sure that your school's infirmary or a surrounding medical office that you can easily get to is part of your network. If not, it may be helpful to get your school's insurance to avoid pricey doctor's visits if you can't get home. Just stay off WebMd as much as possible; you're probably fine.

Random roommates are good for you.
They may be a pain or they may be your best friends. I've been lucky enough to have both. Even having a terrible roommate is a good experience if only to learn what other people do that annoy you so that you don't do things to annoy others. It's a great way to learn boundaries. It's also a great way to meet friends because your roommates will have friends, and the best part is that they most likely didn't follow you from high school.

Befriend your professors.
There have been too many times in just my first two years when I've needed a reference letter for a club or a scholarship and had to send awkward, desperate emails to professors I hadn't talked to in over a semester. They're also useful beyond reference letters--they are, seriously, a wealth of knowledge about your career. They also usually have a plethora of connections to get you started on a path to your dream job. It also makes going to class that much more enticing.

Not every minute has to be productive.
I started to drive myself crazy in my spring semester sophomore year because I felt that any minute spent not moving forward in my life was a minute wasted. That is far from the truth. Give yourself time to refresh and rest before you need to dive back into another round of work. With that, don't get carried away with too much refreshing--which translates to: don't watch 10 episodes of Game of Thrones a day (also something I started doing in that spring semester when I had too much of constant work).

You're going to do stupid things and you will regret them--but don't think too hard about them.
Stupid things are what college stories are made of. Or maybe some things you did you would rather keep tucked away in the deep recesses of your mind. Either way, don't let them haunt you and fill you with nerves at the very thought of them. Sure, you wish you hadn't done whatever might be dragging you down, but the sooner you can learn to laugh at it, the sooner you'll find relief from it.

Please keep yourself and your surroundings clean.
I am a clean freak to my very core. Cleaning soothes me and having a nice space makes me calm. My mom had always done the majority of the household care, but I made sure to learn along the way the things she did to keep the house clean. You're probably awaiting the day you go to college and never have chores, but please don't go away with that mindset. Just clean. You will feel better and you will make those around you feel better if you and your space are decent and nice.

Apply for all the scholarships.
A lot of the time, the essays you write and the surveys you fill out won't be the winner. However, there are so many websites and resources available to find less popular scholarships that you're more likely to win. I have won three scholarships so far, and the money I earned is well worth the few hours here and there spent writing about my life, my ideas, or my future.

If you take anything away from this post, let it be that your happiness, health, and path are the most important things to focus on in these four years. Of course, love your family and your friends with all of your heart, but love yourself just as much and don't feel selfish for taking care of yourself. Even if these aren't the best four years of your life, let them be good and prosperous.

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