There are certain milestones in your life like getting ready for high school, entering college, or finding a job, that seems like the most important things in the world. You are worried about waking up for your 8 AMs, getting a good grade on your midterm, and ultimately finding a job that will be both self-satisfying and financially stable. A big part of who you are as an adult begins during your transformative years in college and there are so many things that I wish someone had told me about this time.
One of the beauties of campus life is that you quite literally have everything at your fingertips. Want to learn a computer program? You can find someone to help with that. Want to rent an expensive piece of camera equipment? Pretty sure you can check it out from the AV department for a few bucks. Never in your life will you have such unrestricted access to knowledge and tools – it’s in your best interest to explore all of your passions and educate yourself every single day.
I think one of the most important things that I learned when I was a student was outside of the classroom. Learning to lead was one of the most challenging and rewarding experiences of my life and I truly believe it has shaped into who I am. I served as captain of a dance team that I started my first week in college and was managing the ins and outs of it from day one. I made so many cringe-worthy mistakes, but I learned. I highly recommend that everyone holds leadership roles in college to truly prepare you for working with others and managing up – and down.
Join clubs, student organizations, and sports. If you don’t find something you like – start your own club. No really, I did it! I started a co-ed Bollywood fusion dance team called UGA Asura over a decade ago and they are still operating as one of the nation’s best dance teams. But trust me, we did not start out that way. It was single-handedly the biggest learning experience for me in college.
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MAKE FRIENDS WITH YOUR ADVISOR
This is something that I’ve taken very seriously as a student. If in your working career, you were assigned a mentor whose job it was to quite literally advise you on what to do – wouldn’t you take advantage of that? So many students only visit their advisors when it’s required and that is a massive oversight. My advisor was able to find me a path of courses that allowed me to graduate early with 4 very different concentrations and a summer abroad. I majored in Advertising but had a double minor in Women’s Studies and Spanish and a certification in New Media. I once took an elective that was “Spanish Women in Technology & Media” that counted for all of my degrees, which I never would have found on my own. Point made. Go make friends with your advisor.
HAVE SCHOOL SPIRIT
Even if you aren’t into football, basketball, or whatever your college is known for – dig deep and unleash that school spirit. Rallying behind your university is such a unique experience that you will only be able to have while you are a student. So get that sticker face tattoo and mosey your way over to the stadium. Fake it till you make it. Also learning the details of how sports work is just good general life knowledge. I honestly didn’t know that you got 6 points when you scored a touchdown until college. It’s not something that I’m proud of, but I was never exposed to sports growing up so I’m glad I took the time to ask questions in college. It makes “football Sundays” as a married adult much easier (funny I always thought it was Pancake Sundays!)
I had to say it.
I had to say it because it’s true. College is a time that tests you as an adult. You are finally making decisions on your own and no one is watching over your shoulder to see if you are illegally drinking or opening credit cards. This isn’t Vegas, what happens will transcend college and you need to take your newfound adulthood seriously. Make responsible decisions with your education, with your body, and with your money.
GET A JOB
Yes, college is hard but you can still take on a part-time job. Wanna know how I know this? Because I did it and so many others like me did too. Here’s my college advice: working 5-10 hours a week allows you to have some extra cash to eat off of campus, indulge in college gear, and to start saving. Better yet, it helps make you less reliant on your parents. Your job doesn’t have to be terrible either, just ask my intern! She’s a freshman at the University of Georgia and is absolutely slaying it.
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MEET NEW PEOPLE
It’s easy to get caught up when you head into college surrounded by your high school peers, but breaking out and meeting new people is key. Don’t worry, everyone is awkward! Talk to the people sitting next to you in class, join student organizations, chat with people living in your dorm and get comfortable making small talk. It’s one of the most valuable life skills.
College is a crucial time but just know that life experience is just as important as your formal education, if not more so. (Unless you are applying to grad school, then get that 4.0!) For many fields, employers care more about the initiatives you sought out and the experience you gained rather than your GPA or what classes you took. Plus it makes you a more well-rounded person and more capable to handle all of life’s challenges. By the time I figured all of this out, I was a good couple month out of my college years. I wish I had known this going in, but alas my hindsight is 20-20.