If I could go back to college, the things I would do differently are astounding.
What I wish I knew in college is just how important my self-worth was, and how it could help me land better jobs, make better friends, and overall attract better things into my life.
The list might not be limited to these 13 things, but these are the 13 things I wish I knew in college that seemed the most important to share.
1. College is literally full of unlimited resources, use them
To name a few:
When you’re in college, you think your life is so busy and you don’t have time to utilize these resources, but the truth is, when they’re gone, they’re gone. When you graduate and move on and begin to deep dive into your career, you’ll wish you took advantage of all the ~free~ resources you had in college.
Ok, obviously they aren’t free, that tuition bill is pretty heavy….but you’re paying for it anyway, so use it.
- Sit in courses you might not be enrolled in but might be of interest to you. Sound crazy? Why not learn as much as you can and not take an exam at the end of it? If your credits are precious this is a good way to try out if you like something before you commit.
- Make friends with your professors and pick their brains AS MUCH AS YOU CAN. They might not know everything, but they probably know a lot. Plus any type of networking is good networking.
- You’d be surprised how much you’ll miss free (or nearly free) printing when you don’t have it anymore. Printers + ink = hella expensive stuff. Enjoy it while it lasts
2. Enjoy the social scene, but don’t let it destroy your GPA
You have every single reason in the world to grow your social circle in college. It’s what you do…it’s a rite of passage. If you don’t, you’re missing out.
But the best lesson that there ever was learned post-college, is that you really can’t wake up hungover and have your friends go to work for you, as you’d have your friends go to class for you in college.
You have to show up every single day no matter what. So why not start working that habit while you’re in college. (The habit of responsibility, not getting good at being functionally-hungover)
Go out, have fun, but remember that your first responsibility is to show up to class and be prepared to perform well on exams and pass in assignments that you would be proud of.
There are a million chances for you to party and be social. Be wise.
3. No decision is permanent (except a 2.5 GPA)
You can change schools, your major, and anything else under the sun, you can also change them back if you want. Often we are taught that the stakes are constantly high and that every decision we make will be ~impossible~ to come back from….
The truth is, that’s not true…every decision you make does affect the next, but ultimately puts you on the path you’re supposed to be on.
Trust your gut, make decisions that feel good to you (and no one else but you), and remember that you can always change your mind. You’re allowed that peace of mind.
4. Actually take note of how much and what kind of debt you’re incurring
Did you know that money is the biggest source of stress for 44% of Americans? (Marketwatch).
We’re all notorious for using the phrase “future me will worry about that.” And of course, it is true, but present you can also be aware of what future you might be caring about, especially when it comes to stress which can have incredibly adverse impacts on the body.
Paying attention to the types of debt you are getting yourself into to fund your college degree can make all the difference in the success of your life post-college.
When you know what you’re in for, what your interest rates are, and all the options you have after college to pay back the debt you owe, you can make way smarter life choices rather than just constantly flying by the seat of your pants living in a state of increased stress and anxiety.
Even a choice as simple as living with your parents for one or two years after college to start to save money and have a cushion once your student loan payments start kicking in is a better decision than just seeing what happens.
The informed student is always so much better off than the student who chose to worry about it later.
And if we are being honest, stressful situations only heighten with age across the board, so adding major financial stress to the equation could really send you on a downward spiral.
5. Stop stressing about your major, it’s irrelevant anyways
When I was in college, I wanted to be a Physician’s Assistant so badly.
I really thought I had it ALL figured out. I walked into college with so much confidence no one could burst my bubble.
I realized very quickly that I hated it and changed majors approximately 3 more times after that before I found something I sort of liked.
Then when I got my first job my major made zero impact on why I was hired, I was hired for jobs because I had a degree and fit in with the culture.
What I’m trying to say is, do something you enjoy, but don’t think it’s your end-all-be-all. Having more experience and a greater range of skills will give you a leg up more than being hyper-focused in the major you studied.
If you can speak to the diversity you bring to a team you’ll be hired over the person who’s way too niche and stuck in their ways to be taught otherwise.
6. You’ll absolutely never have more free time than you have at this very moment
Unless you don’t work at all after college….you will never have as much free time as you have at this very moment.
Upon graduating there will be way more priorities, likely a 40 hour work week, and you will want to do things you enjoy, maintain a social life, save money by cooking, etc, etc, etc.
It only gets worse the older you get.
Not to scare you, but do the things you enjoy doing NOW while you have an abundance of time.
If you want to start a side hustle, do it now.
Stop sleeping till noon, stop wasting your time on social media, do things that will benefit your future while you don’t have 100s of responsibilities on your plate. You’ll be happy you did.
7. Find a mentor and build a strong relationship with them
If you do this early on you’ll find that it’s much easier than later in your college career or in life.
Going back to point number 1 I made, you’ll never have more resources than right now.
A professor or mentor that you approach early on will see potential in you and want to help you lead a successful life, rather than look at you as desperate trying everything to just scrape by.
Ask them all the questions and really allow the relationship you have with them to grow into something that you will take with you after graduation.
The more you use this skill the easier it will be when you enter the real world to find mentors who will help you and go the extra mile to help you find your own success.
Plus, the more you learn from a mentor, the more likely you are to become a mentor someday to someone, and that is such a rewarding and fulfilling role to have in life.
8. Get comfortable with being uncomfortable
You know that saying that nothing transformational ever came from comfort zones? I hate to say it, but it’s really true.
Life isn’t supposed to be comfortable. Learning is hard. Not understanding things the first time sucks. Getting shutdown blows. Failing makes us feel horrible about ourselves.
But it’s how we react to these situations that make us successful, that teach us the lessons and give us the fire under our feet to be better next time.
If you don’t ask for what you want, or at least work for it, you’ll never get it.
Stop just taking the easy road, and actually challenge yourself by doing things you don’t think you’ll be successful at the first time.
Maybe the next time you take that challenge you will, and that’s enough motivation to keep going.
9. If you don’t jive with a professor, opt for another one
This might not always be possible, especially if you attend a small college/university, but if it is, you’re much better off taking a class with a professor you like and respect.
From all my experiences, if I didn’t respect the professor, the information went in one ear and out the other and I was left feeling incredibly unfulfilled and annoyed to be wasting my time.
This goes for everything in life, if you don’t like someone, don’t just stick it out because you think you’ll get something out of it.
It is much more important to build authentic relationships with people that you actually respect and enjoy being around.
Just because someone is smart or a ~good~ connection….doesn’t mean that they’re good for you.
Remember that in your personal relationships and your professional relationships, and yes, even the ones you have with your college professors, no one is forcing you to be in those realtionships. Period.
10. Your self-care is actually important, and you’re probably thinking of it wrong
Stop neglecting caring for yourself because you feel like it’s selfish or a waste of time.
There are two lessons that are important here….the first one being, be selfish.
Go to the gym because it makes you feel good, eat healthy because it makes you more focused and less groggy, get quality sleep as often as you can because it will allow you to show up and be on your game daily, go out of your way for yourself to show that you care.
See what I did there? I gave a reason for every single act of self-care, because that’s where the importance comes from: the reason you show up.
You really cannot show up for anything or anyone until you feel confident about yourself, and the only way to do this is by showing yourself TLC.
The second lesson is that this habit is harder than it sounds.
Self-care is not about treating yourself to prizes or treats, it’s not about going to the spa, or even being super healthy all the time. It’s really just about knowing to trust yourself, your decisions, and the person you allow yourself to be.
Having values, morals, and an overall sense of self will get you more job offers, more meaningful relationships, and way more happiness than just doing things because you feel like it’s what you should be doing. And quite frankly, everyone, including yourself, will see right through that.
Starting the habit now will benefit the future you immensely.
11. Stop focusing on the people who don’t like you
You’re out of high school now, it’s time to leave this habit in the past.
If someone doesn’t like you, stop getting so hung up on it. Self-loathing and overanalyzing never made a situation better and it’s not going to now.
This goes for everything….it’s a lesson that never goes away.
You’re not supposed to make everyone like you, you’re not here for anyone but you, and chances are, the people who don’t like you have zero impact on your future.
Distance yourself from these thoughts and focus on who does like you. You’ll feel much happier and more fulfilled spending time with the people who want to be around you.
12. Stop running from anxiety and stress and learn how to manage it
If you are always just trying to make yourself busy, drink, or sleep off your stresses….you’ll end up a very sad adult.
I don’t mean this to scare you, I want you to realize just how important the life skill of stress management really is.
Stress doesn’t magically go away when your exam is over, or when you finished the paper you’ve been working on for weeks, or when you graduate, or after you get the job you’ve been interviewing for….or when…okay, I’ll stop there.
Every single time one stressful situation ends, more pop up in its wake.
Stress IS NOT bad. If you were never stressed about anything, you arguably aren’t doing enough, and since no one is perfect, stress will naturally come and go as a part of life.
The only thing that is bad, is dealing with stress in ways that will never help you feel reprieve.
It can be through meditation, working out, reading, taking a walk, literally anything at all to help you tune in, come up with a game plan and then fight back the stress in a way that’s manageable.
The more you learn how to tackle the stresses that arise, the stronger you’ll be when you have more stress on your plate at one given time.
13. Fake it till you make it
When you go from feeling like you have it all figured out in high school to feeling like you are the lowest (wo)man on the totem pole….you’re bound to struggle.
There’s likely going to be many times when you feel like a total imposter, or just completely lost and undeserving.
The truth is, almost everyone feels like this at some point during their life, and probably many times throughout their life.
When you feel like imposter syndrome is taking over your life, take a moment to remember what you want from the situation and then realize that putting yourself in this difficult position can only help you learn and grow even more than if you just took the road that was easier.
Eventually, you’ll look back on those situations and realize the learning curve was large but you’re much better for it.