10 Things I Wish I Could Tell My College Freshman Self

By Gigi Engle

When I was in college, I genuinely had no idea about the real world. I knew it was out there, but it seemed intangible to me. Little did I know, graduation day came much sooner than I expected.

After college, I wasn’t sure how to get a job, how to pay my bills or what to do with my degree. I knew a lot about a lot of things, but I wasn’t sure how practical that knowledge would be.

Following a lot of learning, I have a few, simple pieces of advice to help you maximize your college experience AND give you the tools you need to make it in the workforce.

Here are 10 things I wish someone had told me before freshman year:

1. You're not going to be best friends with your roommates.

You may think you’re coming to college to be best friends with the people you live with. The truth is, the people you’re randomly assigned to room with as a freshman are probably not going to wind up being your BFFs for life.

Don’t go to college with unrealistic expectations. Prepare yourself for the worst: Your roommates may be the most awful people you’ll ever meet. Don’t bank on being besties.

2. You need to breakup with that high school boyfriend.

Staying with your high school boyfriend is going to close you off from all of the amazing experiences you could be having on your new campus and in your new life.

Holding onto old flames will end up biting you in the rear. Soon you'll find that all of those experiences you missed out on can never be replicated and all those friends you should have been making have already found other social groups.

College is an important life event and you should take advantage of every aspect of it.

3. You do need to go to class.

Listen up. You need to go to class, and you need to take notes. You may think you can "get by" just reading the textbook, but here is a little pro tip: your professors are taking the exam questions from the actual lessons that they are teaching. College is expensive. Don’t just do all of the fun social things. You have to go to class and learn.

4. You don’t need to join every single club.

Joining a club or two at school is a great way to make friends and to meet like-minded people. You don’t need to join fifteen clubs to have a great campus experience.

With classes and your budding social life in tow, you don’t want to overextend yourself and find that you can't juggle all of your new responsibilities. Just pick a few great clubs that you really love.

5. Major in something practical.

If you major in philosophy or Latin, you won’t be able to find a job. Majoring in something that interests you is important, but even more important is getting your money’s worth for your college education.

The point of college is to acquire the skills you need to be a desirable employee. You need to be able to use what you’ve learned outside the classroom.

6. Cramming before tests is not the way to go.

Procrastinating in college is easy. You fall into a network of social activities and new friends. Before you know it, you're trying to pack in an entire semester's worth of learning into a panicked, all-night study session.

This is not how to properly retain important information. Yes, this method may get you through your class with a passable grade, but the entire course will end up being useless if you remember nothing from it.

7. Instead, be strategic with your studying schedule.

With all of your extracurricular responsibilities and the endless homework assignments you're going to have, you need to be prepared for your midterm study sessions.

Take all the homework you've had throughout the semester, times it by one million and that is how much you should prepare for your midterm exams.

Professors have a knack for giving you an insane workload without ever taking into consideration that you have other classes on your roster. Try to set and stick to a study schedule. Read over all of your notes after every single class to help make preparing for midterms is less daunting.

8. Internships are absolutely critical if you want a job.

I truly wish someone had told me that there was more to preparing for adulthood than just getting good marks in school.

If you want to get real, usable skills, you need to focus less on the party scene and more on finding an internship.

There are plenty of ways to get one. Utilize your school’s resources and scour the web. There are a lot of great internships in many fields.

Coming out of college with a degree and zero work experience can be the kiss of death. Give yourself a leg up, and try to have at least three internships by the time you graduate.

9. Student loans are real, and you need to plan for them.

Your loans are not in some magical fairyland that you'll never reach. They are real, and you're going to need to start paying them off six months after graduation.

That may seem like a long time away, but you'd better start considering how you’re going to foot the bill. Entry-level jobs pay peanuts, and the bank wants cold hard cash.

10. You probably won’t meet your husband.

No matter what your graduated friends tell you, you probably aren’t going to meet your future husband while you’re in college. College is about having fun, working hard and making memories.

Don’t get bogged down by the future when you’re still learning about yourself. Take every experience in stride, and learn from each and every person you meet. Everyone has something to teach you.

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