Visiting my brother back at his university (now my alma mater), put me in my feels. I’ve been going through old photo albums filled with memories such as spring break, recruitment, and series of moments that lead to dating Bryce. I have even kept some of my old journals that I heavily wrote in during my first two years at college. I see how Taylor Swift comes up with so many of her song lyrics. It is like being able to retell a story as if you were traveling back in time … all the emotions and memories flooded throughout my journals!
College, like everyone says, is the best four years of your life. The four years go faster than the speed of light. If only I could have pushed a pause button to make them last longer.
It really is the only time in your life where your schedule is still a little predetermined, money isn’t too much of a worry, friends can be found on every corner, cute men can sometimes be found on those same corners, and parties are more frequent than actual meals. The connections you make while in college are some of the most important ones you will ever make.
When I was all packed and ready to go to school, I didn’t realize that it was so much more than school, parties, and dorm life. For full disclosure, I don’t even think I realized that until halfway through my sophomore year of college. There are some things I wish I had handled differently but would have never changed. It’s a learning process and one that is packed full of gratitude if you pay close attention.
To help prepare for the next best four years of your life, I put together a short list of things I learned in college that changed the game for me. Some things I wish I had known, so I’m sharing that wisdom with you.
1. Be a “Yes” girl to anything that sparks your interest
If I could go back and do one thing differently, it would be this. If something interests you like a club or you get invited to meet an older girl for lunch, just go. The same goes if you join a sorority and you are super interested in social media, learn from the others and say yes to new opportunities. Saying yes can lead to a lot of amazing doors. It can also help you figure out what you like to do and what you don’t.
2. Say “NO” to people, events, and anything else that weigh you down
College is a time to be selfish in a good way. If it doesn’t fulfill you, don’t waste your precious time doing it. There are a few things that felt like I was beating a dead horse. I should have ended those relationships and clubs earlier then trying to drag them on and suffering through them. People will still like you even when you say no. Boundaries are important to set in your professional life and your personal life. Spreading yourself too thin and not putting your all into the activities could cost you in the long run. Be selective and don’t be afraid to say no.
3. Don’t rely on others
Okay, this sounds really harsh, but I also believe this is something we learn in college. People are truly out for themselves (not a bad thing), which forces you to learn independency. Don’t expect someone to be with you every moment of the day, helping you handle difficult classes, or even pulling their weight on a group assignment. You will learn that the only way to get things done is by doing them yourself. Be accountable for your academics and your committees.
4. Do study hard, but don’t let your hair fall out
College is so stressful. I remember the sleepless nights, early morning study sessions, and studying during the weekends. Several times I found myself crying over a class and even having a full blown panic attack. When you stress yourself too far, your body negativity reacts. This can lead to hair loss, weight gain, and anxiety or panic attacks.
If you become stressed about grades, go talk directly with that teacher. Most will be understanding and genuinely wanting to help. Sororities are a great resource for having someone who has taken the class and can help you understand it. Don’t wait for help in a class that challenges you … ask sooner than later. Pulling grades up last minute is hard.
5. Keep in contact with your high school friends and family
It feels amazing to have a new friend group that is experiencing the same thing as you, but don’t forget about your day one friends. The relationships with them are the ones that last forever. They knew and loved you at the most awkward stages of your life. I think of mine as life preservers that kept me afloat during challenging times. FaceTime or Zoom makes it possible to stay connected.
Don’t forget to call or see your family either! I missed them like crazy, so I called at least 3 times a week to keep them updated.
6. Dive deep into your major
Actually talk to people with your same major. If you are double majoring, take internships for both of them. Now that I’m in marketing, I wish someone had told me that marketing professionals spend a fair amount of time in the graphic design realm. I had zero experience with any graphic design, so I had to teach myself everything. Internships give you something to put on your resume to stand out from every other recent college graduate. Not one company I interviewed with asked me about sorority life. However, I would still pledge a sorority because it granted me opportunities for leadership positions I would have never tried for without their support. Every single job interview I went on asked me right out of the gate about my leadership position on student senate. Find leadership roles on your campus. Being the president of a club lets future employers know you can manage people and run a committee.
7. Don’t neglect yourself, Freshman 15 is REAL
You’ve probably heard of the freshman 15. It is extremely easy to get to this point, but it’s just as easy to grab fruits and vegetables. It’s also easy to fall down the sugar alcohol trap. Listen to me, and I repeat, GET A GYM MEMBERSHIP AND GO. Take a class. Sign up for personal training. Whatever it is you like to do, do it. When you leave high school where you were super busy and playing two sports a day and then go to college and just walk to class, it’s easy to gain the weight. Get your booty in the gym and find a routine that fits for you. A schedule is so important when you don’t have one.
Living in the dorms with other people means it can be hard to find your own quiet downtime. Take yourself to get your nails done, go tan, or just run to the grocery store. Having those alone moments will be a nice mental reset.
8. Write everything down
If you do not have a planner, get one and learn how to use it so it works best for you. College will be one of the busiest times in your life, and it’s really easy to “double-book” yourself. It’s also easy to forget about upcoming tests and assignments. Tip for the wise — invest in a good planner and don’t go anywhere without it. My planner was my bible. I tried the cute planners and had to have one that mapped out each day hour by hour. It helped me keep cheer, sorority, senate, and school in line with a visual plan. I started my morning looking at the day and recording additional tasks.
College teaches you lessons that make you wiser and stronger. Each challenge and obstacle is there for a reason. Learning to live in a small space with a total stranger will cause communication growth if you put forth the effort. I have so many good memories living with Hannah and decorating our room. I was lucky. Pledging a sorority with 100 new friends can be overwhelming. Imagine yourself as a diamond in the rough at school, pressure will make you shine. Don’t take your time in school for granted. Even the worst days lead to the best stories. Seize the moment because it is preparing you for adulthood. I hope you have the best semester. If you are at Northwest, I’m sending you extra good vibes.
Until next time,