Schools do a good job of preparing students for college, but it can still be a massive shock to the system. To get the most out of the experience, here’s our list of 11 things you should know before going to college:
1) It Goes Fast
4 years might initially seem like a lifetime, but it will soon fly past. You’ll only just be truly settled-in when you’re visiting home after the first year.
So, enjoy it while you can. It really is a special time, where you’ll make lifelong friends and develop your sense of self. Don’t get too caught-up on trivial matters or so laser-focused that you don’t have time to enjoy it.
2) It’s Tough
Despite what you might read about degrees getting easier or college just being one big party, nobody breezes through without putting in any effort. It’s tough and you will have to challenge yourself.
Teachers won’t be holding your hand this time and there’s a lot of work that requires independent study.
3) You Will Party Too Hard and Learn
We won’t say don’t party, because partying is fun and nobody listens anyway.
Partying will happen—that’s a fact, and it might be detrimental to your studies. However, college is as much about learning life lessons as it is learning your chosen subjects. You will soon learn what partying too hard means to you, what your limits are, and how better to manage your lifestyle.
That will invariably mean a few embarrassing incidents, some terrible hangovers, and some wasted money. But, that’s part of growing up.
4) Don’t Skip Class
It’s better to go to class in a tired, hungover, or in an otherwise bad state than to miss it altogether. You still might learn something.
5) Manage Your Money
Even if you get a loan for living expenses, you are still going to have to learn to manage your money. There’s nothing worse than blowing it all in the first few weeks and struggling for the rest of the term.
If you do find yourself in a pickle, but don’t need to take out a full student loan, you might consider a small 3-month loan from a reputable online provider.
6) You Won’t Need ALL Those Books
Often before starting class, you’ll have some kind of book list floating around and you might be tempted to go out and buy them all. Then you start the class and realize they only really focus on a one or two. Don’t waste your money on the full list—rely on the library if you end up needing them.
7) Friends Will Come and Go
College isn’t quite like high-school when it comes to the peer pressure and angst, but it may still take time to find your friend circle and become comfortable. You may find your initial acquaintances that you meet in your first classes or via your accommodation don’t end up becoming close friends, but others you meet elsewhere become your besties.
You might also experience the rocky road of people you consider friends dropping out or not turning out to be quite as friendly as you thought they were.
That’s ok! College is also teaching you the skills of socializing with a wide variety of people, just like you will in the workplace and other areas of life.
8) Poor Food Choices Equals Poor Health
It doesn’t apply to everyone, but college might be the first time that you’re fully responsible for your eating habits. And, that’s where the old saying about the ‘freshman 15’ comes from. It refers to the 15 pounds you put on through poor food choices in your first year.
If you can see yourself just living on pizza, make the effort to learn a few basic dishes before you go, so you can maintain your health and waistline. Eating particularly badly, along with excessive partying, can impact your mental performance and mental health.
9) There Is Always Help
College can seem daunting and there will be times when you feel alone, but there is all sorts of different support available to you if you want it. Whether you’re sick, having mental health troubles, are getting behind in classes, or just have a simple query, your college website will have the info or the details of someone you can contact.
10) Changing Majors or Colleges is Cool
College is where you learn the skills that open up a career path that you will most likely be stuck in for the rest of your life. It’s ok if you made the wrong choice and want to switch majors or even transfer to another college. Heck, you may drop out and come back in two years’ time.
It’s better to get it right than to do a degree you hate and enter a field you’ll resent.
11) Call Home
Chance are, you’re going to have a blast! However, don’t be having too much fun to call home. College is also a big transition for your parents, who perhaps for the first time, will be without you around the home.
Ultimately, college is about learning, finding yourself as a young adult, and having fun!
Are you currently a college student or a previous graduate? What advice would you give to those about to embark on their own journey?