My baby (18-year-old) sisters are leaving to embark upon the best four years of their lives and I’m left here upset (jealous). But it got me thinking – what is the best big-sister advice I could give them that was not the typical “study hard, stay out of trouble” advice? So here are 7 other important things I wish I had known from the start.
1. Think you studied enough? Study more.
I cannot stress this enough for incoming freshman. Far gone are the days of “reviewing” your notes and getting an A. Welcome to the world of studying for two weeks and praying for a B. It’s so critical to spend enough time studying for exams in college because, trust me, they are harder than you think they will be. And you’re actually paying for your classes now, which means a failed class is wasted money. Or increased loans. But what might be even worse than just a bad grade is the fact that your GPA will have a tough time springing back. Don’t dig yourself a hole – utilize every resource you have from Quizlet to Study Blue to your campus-tutoring center. And if you think you’ve studied enough, study more.
2. Be an adult.
I will never forget my first class of college. I was so excited sitting there, waiting for class to start, when high school practically hit me in the face all over again – the girl sitting two seats down from me was being bullied by two kids in front of her. Yup, you read that right. Why you may ask? Because she actually did the assigned reading. Imagine that. After a minute of being in awe of this happening, I kindly(ish) explained to the boys how immature this was. Moral of the story: grow up. If it’s “not cool” to actually do the readings and work in college, then why is the library consistently packed? I used to go to the library with my friends to sit in the “Greek life section” to maintain my social image. Oh, and also to study. High school is over, people. But if your maturity level is stuck there, you might have a harder time in college than you thought.
3. Be independent.
There’s nothing more irritating in college than the person who can’t do anything by themselves. Independence is something you have to get used to in college. This means eating a meal or two by yourself, occasionally going to the library by yourself, or walking to class by yourself. All of these things are perfectly normal and practically unavoidable in college. College forces you into being independent whether you’re ready or not. But when in doubt, at least your mom is always a phone call away on that lonely walk back from class.
4. Try new things.
Most people go into college with an idea of all the things they’re going to try once they’re there. Some people envision Greek life, others sports and others Advertising Club. But don’t limit yourself. As cliché as it may sound, there are endless different things to try at school. Give them all a fair chance. You’d probably never know the Trampoline Club exists until you venture out and try things. Try out for a sport, rush a sorority or fraternity, join a club, etc. If you actually explore what schools offer, you’ll likely end up doing, and loving, something you never thought you would.
5. Experience the nightlife, WITH friends.
For a lot of people, experiencing the college nightlife and party scene is at the top of the list. And you should go out and experience it. Everything from tailgates to bar specials to socials will happen every weekend. But remember that college is a balance, which means balancing your education with your social life. And on weekends, balancing your drink, wallet, and cell phone. But seriously, college is the only time in your life where you can go out four nights in a row and only be mildly hungover. So experience all there is to offer on the college party scene, but use your brain. Thinking that heading to the bar solo sounds like a good idea? Think again. Be smart and go out with your friends. And most importantly, be a good friend.
6. Don’t major in something you hate.
I went into college completely set on being a kinesiology major and pursuing the path of athletic training. Within my first semester at college I quickly realized how wrong I was. I am now a public relations professional. Do not stick with a major that isn’t working for you. You have plenty of time to explore and change you major and you should take full advantage of that. You’ll never know what truly interests you until you give it a chance. If you have the slightest interest in something, take a class on it. It could spark a passion and be your future career. Or it could be a bust and serve as nothing more than credits. But you’ll never know until you try. Take it from an athletic-trainer-turned-Samantha-Jones.
7. Cherish every single second.
People are not lying when they say these are the best four years of your life. So go out on weeknights, celebrate every little event, make meaningful friends and enjoy every second. The years of college will fly by – enjoy it from the very start.