What I Wish I Knew Before Heading Off to College

Off to college

I love this time of the year!!! Seeing all of the pictures, acceptance letter videos, and overall excitement from families and graduates brings back so many memories. While I won't be pulling out my own letter for nostalgia, I remember all of the feelings I experienced back then. While looking back, one of the things that always highlights itself in my mind is things I wished I knew prior to stepping foot on campus. Here are a few that come to mind:

- Have Fun, But Prioritize Your Education: I got caught up in the unlimited freedom you acquire once you move onto campus. I would up in the late night/early morning cycle (playing spades at night and having 8:00 am classes) leading to mandatory afternoon naps once class was done. I enjoyed it, but my GPA suffered greatly. It only took one semester, but balance became the name of the game. I took advantage of reading over my syllabus ­čś│and tried working, reading, and studying ahead versus attempting to pack everything into the week or few days before the test. 

- Special Programs/Events: Several of these opportunities can benefit you so go to them and learn as much as you can. There could also be networking opportunities that can prove very beneficial in regards to some of your future endeavors. They may not seem convenient nor the most interesting, but neither is a lot of life. While I'm not saying going to everything, identify the ones that can be advantageous and be present.

- Internships: Try getting a job with no experience and this will prove its own importance. I will be honest and admit that I didn't do one and it definitely made getting a job difficult. Make it a priority to seek the information you need to ensure you don't leave school without at least one under your belt.

- Financial Planning: I don't know what all schools offer, but I was able to sit down with someone during my senior year and review my credit score as well as get information to make me more financially literate. While I won't pretend I used all of the advice I was provided, I appreciated the opportunity to get the information for free.

- Water Type: I know this seems strange, but being prepared with appropriate products if you're relocating will save you a lot of headache. When I moved to a place with harder water than where I was from, I ended up having a lot of hair and skin issues. I ended up having to cut my hair because it was so broken. My experience was as a relaxed individual, but natural or not you still need to start with a great base (water) or products to combat it.

- Refund Checks Aren't Free Money: I will admit, I was very blessed to go to college on scholarships and my parents covered the rest. I didn't understand that blessing while I was in college because I was little jealous when everyone got their refund checks, but not having to pay back student loans has made adult life much easier for me. Whatever you get back will probably be tripled by the time you need to pay so be as responsible as you can about what you choose to spend that money on.

- Ask For Help: I didn't particularly care to ask for help and there were times when I did and it didn't appear that my professor cared. While it won't always be easy, your grades are your responsibility and ensuring your success is completely up to your willingness to go after what you need. Professors, Teaching Assistants, and Classmates are all viable options for assistance.

Hindsight is absolutely 20/20 and it only makes sense that those of us with knowledge share as much as we can so future generations don't make all the mistakes we did. It's a fallacy that everyone wants to learn from their own mistakes. Some of us are wise enough to use other's misfortunes as a tool to avoid the same consequences. What types of things would you share with recent graduates that are preparing to enter the world of collegiate life?

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