“There is a time for us to wander, When time is young and so are we. The woods are greener over yonder, The path is new, the world is free” ~ Andy Griffith
Oh, college, a season of new chapters filled with memorable experiences from parties, friendships, to studying late nights.
I had a love and not so love relationship with my college experience. If could go back to my college years, there will be some things I would change, so my future could be properly set. Don’t get me wrong, I don’t regret my college experience. But sometimes you think about the course of actions you took back then, and wonder whether the choices you made were good or not.
For every season, there is always one or many lessons to be learned. For my college experience, there were so many lessons! So for those college freshies out there, here are 29 lessons I
Let’s get started.
1. Meet your college professors before school begins.
Ask them what they require of you during and outside of class. In addition, ask them what books or resources you especially need to pass the class, other than what the class demands. That way, you can know how to establish up your class schedules.
2. If you do not know your major yet, it’s best to go to a community college first and earn your associates degree.
This was the first lesson I learned in college. Sure you can change your major but it’s better to save money then waste four years doing something you don’t love nor is motivated in studying for.
Know your interests, and the things you love doing outside of school, within your community, even your job, if you have one. I would say volunteering (at school or local home city) is one of the best ways to learn more about yourself. Places like VolunteerMatch match you with opportunities that you might like to volunteer in.
Also, if you choose a major you think may be right for you, then along the way it doesn’t fit you anymore, get out of it as soon as you can. You’ll waste money and effort trying to major in something that doesn’t bring you joy nor the motivation to study. It’s not even worth the effort.
You can even take a personality test that determines your personality type and interest. This test can you determine what you like and dislike to give you a bit of a clear understanding of who you are.
I REPEAT: I know college (or even a University) is not for everyone, but for those that are attending their first year, invest in it. Plus, if you do not know what you want to do regarding your career, I would HIGHLY recommend going to a community college and taking an undecided major. It will save you a LOT of money and you’ll still benefit from the college life experience.
3. The library is going to be your best friend.
With all the resources the library has, use it to your full potential. Sure, you have Google, but the library is your number one and foremost resource that will help you pass your class. So bring that fuzzy warm blanket (because it’s cold in the library), your tasty snacks and drink, and your backpack filled all your books and stuff and get comfortable (not too comfortable though). Noise-canceling headphones are also a great tool to help you focus if you like listening to music while you study.
4. Other than the library, use all the resources the school has to offer.
From the writing center, tutoring, or whatever your school has that can help you get a good grade in school, take advantage of them. Make it work for you. It’s a great benefit.
5. Plan, Plan, and lastly, plan.
I cannot tell you how many times I didn’t plan when I had to study and ended up turning in a late report, paper, and such. Or I wouldn’t even have the free time to hang out with friends. It was horrible!
In order for you to have a good college experience, you need to buy yourself a planner. A purposeful college planner is the best thing that’ll ever happen for you. You keep track of your assignments, school schedule, expenses, your appointments, or even plan your night out with friends. A planner will be your best friend from your freshman year to your last year of college.
Which brings me to
6. Be disciplined.
You’re out there on your own for the first time in your life, and it can be very exciting and also a bit scary. Being on your own can also mean that you can go out whenever you want, eat whatever you want, and sleep whenever you want.
That may be true.
However, there are some consequences to that and I don’t need to tell you what sleeping whenever you want leads to. I’ve done that enough in school that it led to several regrets I wish I hadn’t done in school.
So from me to you, in order for you to succeed in school, be disciplined! Know why you came to school in the first place, and make that your first priority.
7. Join groups that interest you.
Finding a group that not only interests you but also helps you academically is a plus. If you’ve ever joined a group or club in high school, think of it like that but better. Different groups have different benefits (for life and/or school). Find out more as you do research for groups within your campus. I would say find at least one group that interests you for now and see where it takes you throughout the semester.
8. Whether you love a tote bag or backpack, make sure that it’s sturdy and strong enough to carry all your belongings.
You’re going to be walking for a bit. I personally used Jansport backpacks and it helped me so much in carrying my belongings. It’s very strong and I never was worried about finding a tear or hole. Another backpack I would recommend using is the Fjallraven – Kanken German backpack 🎒. I personally use the one with the laptop pocket since I carried my laptop with me all the time.
9. Buy good walking shoes.
You will find yourself walking from class to class and other places that requires a lengthy mile. My favorite shoes that were recommended to me by a fellow blogger was sketcher shoes. LET ME TELL YOU… they are so comfortable. They’re not the type of shoes I would wear on a daily basis, but I work with children. So I am constantly on the move and I don’t really want to focus on my feet when I have children to teach. This is something I wished I had back at University, especially those days when I was walking constantly that I needed to take breaks to rest my feet.
10. Jobs are easy to get for some. For others, not so much.
If you have the time, either find a job (if you can) or become an entrepreneur. Start a biz blog, sell online, take surveys, or even offer your services around your campus or the city you’re in. You have a gift that may earn you an income.
I personally took surveys (Opinion Outpost, Pinecone Research, Swagbucks, and Inbox dollars) in college and it has literally paid part of my phone bills and some groceries. If I was more disciplined, I would have saved more money and started a blog. Starting a blog is not hard and it would’ve helped me a lot, especially since I had a part-time job. Though I had loans and such, doing something for myself would’ve helped me more in saving more money and also pay off my loans.
You live and learn.
11. Find the best day to study around your class schedule.
When you do, stick with it. If you’re not a routine person, then switch it up a bit. If you study in the morning for an hour, switch it up a bit. You can try breaking up your studies into chunks and taking a mini-break between them.
>>> Recommended read: 4 Ways To Increase Focus On Task. <<<
12. Always be safe.
I’ve always walked at night by myself from the library to my dorm room since they were a few minutes away from each other. If you live on campus, I suggest having a friend, unless you’re okay with walking by yourself on campus. If you’re close with your roommate, go together to the library and when you’re done, walk back together. Make sure you always bring a pepper spray, having a safe stick handy, and having the campus police number on your phone will readily equip you to be safe from harm.
13. Not everyone is truly your friend.
You may or may not learn this real quick. If a ”friend” is moving you in a direction that against your moral values and your education, move away from them. In the end, they’ll only distract you from doing well in college. Find friends that care for you and their education, and are also supportive of your journey.
This comes to my next point.
14. Whatever college you attend, put God first.
Find a Bible based school group or church near your campus. Immerse yourself in the Lord because the world will test you, with great temptation.
Been there and done that.
15. Try new things, to some extent.
Get out of your comfort zone. I personally tried going to a bar and a house party for the first time in my life and it was not my cup of tea, AT ALL. As an introvert and an individual who doesn’t like being drunk or surrounding myself with people who liked doing that on a weekly basis, that wasn’t for me.
So, yes, experience new things but don’t let it get in the way of your education. So if you’re going to a party the day before your exams, that’s not a good idea. Preferably after your exams, especially if you’ve passed it, then it’s a big plus to get out there and have fun.
16. Learn to budget your money if you haven’t learned prior to college.
If you have a debit card, my best advice is to make a monthly budget. Write everything, and I mean everything you have to pay from your bills to even yourself. After you’ve done that, categorize, place the cash in a money wallet and keep it secure. Acquiring a safe is also helpful when you have personal belongings that you don’t want to be stolen.
And by all means, be careful getting a credit card. You don’t need it, especially in college, and especially if you don’t have a job to pay it all back.
I’m all about being independent, so I didn’t want to ask my parents for money. I wanted to learn how to acquire money myself unless I need their advice or resources. People may say that its a great way to build your credit but if you’ve never used one, be careful. With anything that requires great responsibility, be responsible with a credit card. Ask your parents or your local bank about it so you can get a feel of what you need to do if you ever acquire one.
>>> Recommended read: 6 Steps To Creating A Budget. <<<
17. The college experience will be the place where you learn about yourself in the good and the bad.
For example, I didn’t even know I was an introvert prior to attending college. I always wondered why I was quiet and observant while everyone around me was talkative and quickly had friends. Sure I had friends, but they always asked me about my quiet personality, to the point that it bothered me so much.
Don’t let me get started with high school! 😳.
So when I found about my personality through 16personalities, it became clear on who I was as a person and how I saw my environment. I recommend everyone to take the test at least once and see the type of person you are and how you can better function in your environment. And most importantly
18. If you ever live in a dorm room, make use of your RA (RESIDENTIAL ASSISTANT).
They’re there to help you with any resources you may need school-wise and sometimes personal. I personally loved my freshman RA. She always left her room open for us and she was really helpful, friendly, and thoughtful. So if you do have an RA like that, by all means, seek their assistance when you need it.
19. Get yourself a shower caddy.
I’ve always been a germaphobe to some extent. So getting a shower caddy and shower shoes are great to add into your college student supply list. You just need to take all your bath and beauty items together in the shower stall. Also, shower shoes are a must! I don’t know about you but I don’t trust the “cleanliness” of the floor. I don’t even trust the cleanliness of my own current bathroom floor!
20. Using an alarm clock other than your phone is a must.
I know for me personally that my phone alarm clock is a great distraction! Getting a separate alarm clock is more mindful because when the alarm wakes you up, you’re not going to grab your phone. This stops you from getting distracted for however many minutes you have until you get ready for class.
Like I said been there and done that.
21. Exercise, exercise, exercise!
I wish I would’ve done a better job at going this. Exercising on a regular basis is a great health and wellness benefit. Take good care of yourself with healthy good food too.
>>> Recommended read: Simple Ways To Develop Healthy Habit <<<
22. Sometimes all you want to do is stay in your dorm room and watch some Netflix (Hulu or Amazon prime).
I personally didn’t have Netflix in school and won’t be telling you how I got to watch some shows for free either. But, if you have a friend, roommate, or even your parents (if they allow) that has one, ask them politely if you can use it. If you do have a job or side hustle, you can use that money to pay your Netflix bill.
23. Make your dorm room feel like home.
Find home decors that’ll accentuate your room so you’ll have a home away from home look. Decorate your walls with lights or canvas posters of your choice. I wish I personally did this because I’m literally for real when I say this: on occasion, I stared at my wall for minutes when I was bored before I forced myself to go out.
24. I really wish I found ratemyprofessor.com prior to my freshman year.
It would’ve helped me to know which professor was great to take rather than the ones that didn’t really care for your education.
Let me tell you this: when you’re ready to schedule your next classes, look into this website first. Read the reviews from students that have actually taken those classes with those professors. Then decide for yourself if you want to take the class with that specific professor.
Use this website every time you’re registering for your classes.
25. Never, and I mean never buy your books at full price unless you have to.
One website that’s helped me save hundreds of dollars on textbooks is campusbookrental.com. I’ve researched several websites that would help me save money on textbooks and this is by far, next to Amazon Prime, of course, have helped me a great deal.
>>> Sign up with Amazon prime student using only your student ID. Buy and receive your college student supply list the next day using Prime.<<<
College books are expensive. I don’t even want to look at the price textbooks are now. However, there are a lot of alternatives when considering textbooks and how much you should spend on it.
Before you buy the textbooks, ALWAYS email your professor prior to ordering your books. This can be done prior to two weeks before (when you get your schedule). First, it saves you money. Second, you get to know whether the textbook is going to be used in the class.
When you gather the necessary information, compare your textbook RENT price with Campus Book Rental. You can save up to 70%! I used this website when the school rental textbooks were a bit pricey for renting.
26. Check out Sophia Lee for fun college resources.
Though there are different websites that can give you the best college hacks, Sophia Lee who runs bysophialee.com has great, fun, and resourceful college resources and tools to help you during your college years. I just recently found her and found her website to be
27. Buy a journal
This is a great way to help document your college life, both in and outside of school. Your journal doesn’t have to be something that only documents your thoughts and emotions but it also is a memory book. From stickers to even buying a Fujifilm camera can create the memories you can look back years later.
28. The friends you had in high school that you thought would be your friends even through college, that may or may not happen.
In the end, that’s what the college experience is for. Meet new friends and get out there. You’ll be glad you did. My best friend and I, though apart, thought we would talk to each other every day and stay in touch. Little did we know, life and school got in the way and we drifted apart. If this ever happens to you, cry about it but laugh and smile at the good that you had with them and thank God for the season you both enjoyed each
29. Take care of yourself.
Find yourself a self-care activity that you like doing so whenever you need a break, that particular activity will help you relax.
And no, it’s not your smartphone.
>>> Recommended read: Self-care is not a trend. <<<
30. If your professor tells you that your research paper is going to be in APA format, BUY THIS BOOK.
I would HIGHLY recommend buying this APA book since it’s for those research papers that you have 6 or more pages to write. I remember that in almost all my college classes, my professors recommended this book when they assigned a research paper to write. Trust me, you won’t regret it. And for the writing part, I currently would REALLY recommend Grammarly. It is by far going to be the best friend you’ll ever have when it comes to writing articles and essays.
If you went through this post quickly, here the products I mentioned above that I guarantee will assist you in succeeding in school. In the end, you’re the one that determines your success. Take good care of your life.
Here’s a humorous yet wise video from Evelyn from the Internets who gives you 5 mistakes to avoid in college.
If you went to college or a university, what life lesson would you tell your younger self? Please leave it in comments below! Let’s talk about it.
Until Next Time,