There was a song written in 1973 by the band Faces called ‘Ooh La La’. The chorus of this song reads “I wish that I knew what I know now when I was younger”. I imagine most of us have felt this way at some point in our lives. While we cannot go back in time, we can dispense the knowledge we have acquired over time to younger generations in the hopes that they can make better-informed decisions, and perhaps, increase the impact they make on the world.
College can be one of the most influential and transformative times in your life. You make a multitude of decisions that have a lasting impact on the life you live once you leave. While most of us wish we could go back, all graduates wish they could attend college with the knowledge that they have now. With that being said, allow this college graduate, to share what he wished someone would have told him about college.
- You’re The Boss Now
Up until the first day of freshman year, a lot of your choices were made for you. Where to go to school, what classes to take, what time to wake up. Furthermore, you were more or less forced by your parents and/or the law to attend school, at a certain time, for a certain duration. Now, however, you are the boss. No one is telling you when to wake up, or forcing you to get out of bed at all. If you don’t go to class, your teacher doesn’t call home and you don’t get in trouble. They simply make a note, and after enough absences, deduct points from your grade. Furthermore, no one is forcing you to study or requesting see your grades when you get a test back. If you fail, no one is there to yell at you. It is up to you and you alone to determine what you need to do to be successful, hold yourself accountable, and motivate yourself to do your very best.
- Be Careful Who You Trust
Entering college means meeting several new people. Being away from your longtime friends may result in loneliness and a desire to make new friends and similar connections. It’s easy to share personal or private information with a new contract because they seem like a good person. However, you should wait until you really know someone, how they act, and if they can be trusted before opening up.
- Take More Internships
The idea of working for free does not sound too appealing. Your college will most likely only require one or two internships to graduate. However, after graduation, when you are searching for your first job, those internships are the only items on your resume that will help you stand out from all the other job seekers with no real work experience. Strive to serve at least one internship in a school year, and at least 2 summer internships in between school years.
- Understand Nutrition and Exercise
Before college, you tend to eat whatever your parents make or have in the house. Chances are, they were looking out for your health and ensured you weren’t eating too much junk. Like we established earlier, you are the boss now, it is up to you to take responsibility for what you eat and how much. Take time to understand how many carbs, grams of sugar and fats are in the foods you are eating. Also, phase going to the gym 3–4 times a week into your schedule. This will help avoid putting on weight and help you avoid having to dedicate time to lose this weight after graduation when you are trying to achieve other goals.
- Pay Attention In Class
It is easy to count showing up to class as a victory. However, what is the point if you don’t actually take something away from it? Determine how much sleep and energy you need to be alert and productive class and ensure that you do what it takes to get it. You never know when you may learn something in class that will lead to discovering your passion or even what career you want to pursue after you graduate.
- Embrace Graduation
From the moment you start college, the clock is ticking down to graduation day. You must embrace the fact that you are going to leave and enter the real world in only a few short years. Be sure you are constantly preparing yourself for that day. Everything you do should be aimed at ensuring the best version of yourself walks across that stage and into the next step of your life.
- Take Advantage Of Opportunities
College is full of opportunities, waiting to be taken advantage of. The tricky part is, that most of them are optional and no one is going to force you to take them. Opportunities such as connecting with successful alumni or going to see guest lecturers speak about their experiences and give their advice. It means visiting your career center to create a presentable resume and cover letter. It means taking advantage of anything that will help you become the best version of yourself, even if it means sacrificing short-term happiness like going out or playing video games.
- Understand Your Loans
Most college students educations are paid for via a series of student loans taken out before they arrived at school. Be sure to understand how much money you will be paying pack after college. How much per month? How does that compare to how much an entry-level job in your field of study will pay? By having a firm grasp on these numbers, you will be able to plan accordingly, including working during the school year, holiday breaks and summers to ensure you are not drowning in debt after graduation.
- The “College Experience” is unique to you
There is an idea that floats around college students that they must all have the same ‘College Experience’ and it absolutely has to include things like partying, taking risks, breaking the law, staying up all night, and a plethora of questionable choices. That is a myth. It is okay to say no to something if it makes you uncomfortable, doesn’t align with your goals or is just a flat out stupid decision. You don’t have to stay up late or skip class just because other people around you are doing it. You can be friends with someone but disagree with the choices they make. College is whatever you decide it to be. Be smart, be unique, because you are the only one who has to live with your choices for the rest of your life.
- Time Will Fly By
The four years you spend in college will go by faster than you can ever imagine. The time you spend there is precious because it is short and full of opportunities and experiences. Don’t waste it by being average, make stupid choices, and doing just enough to get by. Take chances, step outside your comfort zone and dare to be different. Find what it is that gets you excited and stop at nothing to pursue it. Decide what type of person you want to be, and do everything you need to do to become it.
Kyle is a youth/education public speaker and blog author. His goal is to use these mediums to inspire high school and college students to think differently about the choices they are about to make and the next steps in their lives.
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The views expressed in this blog and all my content are mine and do not reflect the views and opinions of any companies and educational institutions I have had current or past connections with.