What I Really Learned in College
For the past three years, I have been a full time student. I attended two universities that gave me two very different experiences. Since I’ve graduated as part of the class of 2019, I have decided to share 19 things that I learned in college.
1. Study abroad if you can.
I went on a very short study abroad trip during the summer before my senior year. I wish I could’ve extended that trip…by about a year. It was truly the experience of a lifetime. There is nothing like traveling around a beautiful country with your classmates.
2. Plan wisely, but be flexible.
My careful planning (from the time I was in high school) allowed me to graduate in three years with a B.A. and three minors. There were times that things went wrong and my perfect plan had to alter. I learned how to be flexible and roll with the punches.
3. Take advantage of student discounts
College is that awkward time between high school and the real world when you have some adult expenses but most likely have a job that requires you to ask “do you want fries with that?” Cutting costs wherever possible is a must. Luckily, I’ve put together a list of my favorite student discount hacks for you!
4. Network, network, network
Attend networking events, talk to strangers, get on LinkedIn. Expand your network beyond your classmates. You never know who holds the key to open up the door to amazing opportunities.
5. Be mindful of your health.
The freshman fifteen is no joke. Your unlimited meal plan isn’t the only one who is out to destroy your waistline. Your slowing metabolism and high stress levels are not exactly working in your favor either. Make an effort to eat your veggies and stay active. Also, don’t forget to drink water.
6. Philosophy is cool.
But it’s not for everybody. I fell in love with philosophy (and ethics) my freshman year. Studying philosophy helped me with most of my other classes and it was so interesting to see how the complex theories applied to real life.
7. Internships are more valuable than your classes.
I learned so much more in two internships than I did in my 130 credits worth of school work. While paid internships are great, don’t knock an unpaid internship. It can be very hard to do “free work” on top of your class work and other job that pays the bills, but if you choose the right place to intern, it will be totally worth it.
8. Go to your professors’ office hours.
Getting to know your professors is always a good idea. Go to office hours even if you don’t need extra help. Building those relationship can come in handy. Plus, many professors are awesome to be around. Mine sure were!
9. Don’t drink too much.
During my three years in college, I had multiple classmates die of alcohol related causes. You’ve got your whole life ahead of you. Don’t be stupid.
10. Travel wisely.
Spring break can be a blast, but this is peak tourist season so prices are high. It may be cheaper to take a couple of weekend trips throughout the semester and go home or work over spring break. Also, look into what sort of travel is funded by your school. I was able to go on a trip to New Orleans for a leadership conference my freshman year, and I didn’t pay a penny!
11. Check your financial aid package every semester.
Every single semester, my school tried to charge me anywhere between $100 and $1000 more than they were supposed to. Every semester, I fought it and paid only what I really owed. Know what sort of funding you’re getting and what the scholarships cover. Don’t let your school take advantage of you.
12. Don’t let your relationship control your life.
Luckily, my boyfriend and I established our boundaries from before we started college, but I know a lot of other guys and gals who put so much into relationships that didn’t last. Having a serious relationship can be great, but don’t dedicate your entire existence to another person. This is time for you to do you.
13. Plan wisely.
One bachelor’s degree and three minors (and 5 or 6 major changes) in three years sounds impossible, right? Wrong. I took about 10 dual enrollment courses in high school which really helped, but I planned so that my gen eds were satisfied my some of my major’s courses so that I would have room for more electives. I used all but maybe one or two of my electives towards a minor.
Had I not planned for this overlap, I would’ve needed at least another year to complete all of my coursework since I changed my major so many times.
But not too much. Being well rested will help you to perform better and enjoy every moment.
Exchanging sleep for studying probably won’t help you get a better grade because you’ll be too tired to perform.
15. Manage your time wisely.
This stems off of the last one. Don’t start studying at 8:00 PM the day before your test. Schedule times to do the things you love amongst the things that you need to get done. You can do it all of you balance it well.
16. Your parents aren’t always right.
They are a lot of time, but you have to let them think they are ALL the time. My parents made many suggestions to be that I’m glad I didn’t listen to (like changing my major to business) because those decisions wouldn’t have brought me to where I am today.
17. Just do it.
My motto for college was basically “why not?” I got out of my comfort zone, I had exciting experiences and I added minors like it was going out of style.
College is a very forgiving time. You probably don’t have a spouse or kids or anything to hold you back. Book the trip to Boulder or Pittsburgh or NOLA or Italy or Fort Myers (I’m glad I did).
18. Buy a sturdy reusable water bottle.
Okay, so I’ve always been a fan of reusable water bottles and Yetis and such, but I noticed how many people use one use water bottles.
If you’re buying those from a store or vending machine every day, you’d get your money’s worth inca reusable one in two or three weeks (if you’re buying by the case it’s a little longer).
Not only does this save you a ton of money, it helps you cut back on your plastic consumption (yay let’s save the planet).
19. Enjoy it.
Not everybody has the same college experience, but find what’s right for you and enjoy it. You’re only going to be young once. Make the most of every situation!
An End and a Beginning
Maybe it’s cliche, but it feels so good to be starting a new chapter. No more discussion posts, quizzes or research papers.
Adulting has been fine so far except I had no idea how much a cell phone plan for one person would be. And have you ever applied for a visa?
Anyway, I ended my college career with a killer photoshoot with L&R Photography, so please enjoy!
Great writing Emily. I just hope you have followers who will heed your words and thoughts. Very helpful to all of the new graduates.
I graduated this summer too and I totally agree with you on all the 19 things you’ve mentioned!
xoxo Simone | https://beautymone.com
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