College is a unique experience that nothing on TV or in movies will quite prepare you for. Here are 5 things I’ve learned in college so far…
1. Your experience in college is what you make of it. Everyone else is there for themselves too, so no one is going to be there to guide you step-by-step through college and mold your experience. There will be fantastic people who you’ll meet and will change your life. They will help shape your experience but you are still the author of this experience. If you start out college feeling really alone and struggling to find your niche, you can either seek out the opportunities that will help you combat this or you can just stay in your dorm room feeling sorry for yourself. You will get so much more out of this experience if you put in more.
2. It’s completely okay to not know what you want to do. The summer before college (you know, the one with graduation party after party) you will get asked the following questions more than “Do you have a boyfriend?” at a family reunion. “Where are you going to college? What are you planning to study?” At least one of these questions you will have an answer to. Hopefully, it’s where you’re going to school in the Fall. (But if you’re taking a gap year, all power to you.) If you’re worrying about not knowing what you want to do in college, the honest truth is it doesn’t matter. You have time. What I’ve learned is once you actually start taking classes and getting involved in extracurriculars, what you thought you wanted to study might completely change. I started college thinking I was going to be an accountant. Cue laughter.
3. You’ll learn the actual meaning of responsibility. For some people, this means doing laundry without mom. For others, it’s working to pay for living expenses and tuition. Regardless of what your responsibilities are, you will redefine this word and learn that it’s not always smooth sailing through college. Being independent has its ups and downs, sure, but fending for yourself in one way or another is what makes you ‘grow up’ in college. I am so thankful for the lessons that I’ve learned since moving away from home and especially what I’ve learned since living alone.
4. Time really does fly by. I have 3 quarters left (as in I graduate in exactly ONE YEAR..what?!) here in college and I can’t believe it. I remember moving into my first dorm, missing my family, and dealing with my very first roommates ever like it was yesterday. A flurry of memories have been made since but I can tell you that the key thing that has made my time here fly by is being busy. Being involved on campus doesn’t mean you have to join lots of clubs or take so many classes that you’re in danger of going over your allotted credits, but rather picking meaningful groups to be active in. Time seems to escape you when you’re busy and having fun.
5. Competition doesn’t have to be ugly. Being in one of the most competitive departments at my university has exposed me to how competitive people can be and I think it’s safe to say that if you’re considering going to a large school that has competitive majors and programs, you should prepare yourself. Coming from an IB program or AP doesn’t always prep you for just how harsh the curve of an intro “weed out” class can be and no one will tell you how grueling the recruitment process for internships and jobs will be. As others receive offers, don’t let it discourage you because just like your grades, things like a summer internship will not make or break you. I will never pretend that I’ve never felt hopeless and have compared myself to my peers but I have always snapped out of that because it’s an ugly environment to create for yourself. I think healthy competition is the best part about college because it pushes you to break boundaries and try new things. Plus, surround yourself with others who are equally as ambitious and they will end up being the very ones to cheer you on and help you make it.
For those of you that don’t know me personally, I’m in my third year at the University of Washington in Seattle! I’m sure when I graduate that I’ll have a much more comprehensive list to share and that will be a fun post to write. Thank you, as always, for reading! To all my friends on quarter systems, best of luck to you on finals next week!
*Photo courtesy of Kaboom Pics