Going from high school to college is a huge transition and you’re bound to have a hard time adjusting. All your life, you’ve been dependent on your family doing all the adulting and you were able to get by with free education(if you went to a public school). So to move to a new environment where a lot of the education is more than just academics, there are lessons to be learned on how to be independent. Doing your own laundry, handling financial aid requirements, and figuring out what your next meal is are all basic things. The lessons I’ve compiled in this blog post are more personal and helpful information that will help you excel in the real world even after graduating.
Filter out the people around you.
Keep your friends and family close, but make sure you’re able to have good discernment when it comes to who’s a true homie and who’s the snake. This advice is geared towards your second semester or quarter after you’ve made all your friends in the first few months and tested them all out to see who’s actually worth staying friends with. I make this sound really harsh but it’s actually so important to not cling onto people who won’t return the love. Don’t waste your time on toxic or half-assed relationships that will hold you back. Friends are so essential to your college career so please make sure that who you surround yourself with people who are supportive and loving but will help guide you towards a direction that’s best for you. And make sure you do the same for your friends. Don’t be the snake.
Don’t be afraid to try.
This is still something that I struggle with greatly. I have so much fear and shyness in me that I constantly let opportunities slip through my fingers and disappear. When it comes to adulting, I think that this is the most important lesson to be learned and improved on, whoever you are. Chances don’t come easily and when they do, you need to seize the moment without hesitation. You need to stop being afraid of rejection and just give it a shot. Yes, a lot of what determines your future is based on luck, but there is a lot of truth to the phrase “How much effort you put into something determines the outcome.” You can’t just lie around and wait for some miracle to hit you. No. That’s not going to happen. College is only the start of the real life so you can’t just sit there and be discouraged by something that you have no idea what the results will be like unless you try. I think one of the things that really help with this is setting goals that you are determined to stick to. If you want to have an internship, for example, you better start building that resume with qualifications that will land you the job. Also, please understand the difference between not knowing what you want to do but actively searching for it versus not knowing what to do and doing nothing about it. Laziness leads to nothing, so be proactive and stay committed to your goals.
Take advantage of everything.
Exploit all your resources!
First, meet with your advisors, bother them with all the questions you have about your career path and what classes you need to take. Don’t be nervous to ask them if what you’re doing is the right thing or not. If you’re concerned about not graduating in time, go talk to them about it. They’re there for you to burden.
Second, go to office hours. One thing that was difficult to adjust to was how fast-paced college lectures were as opposed to high school ones where you spend the entire year on one course. This can be especially challenging if you’re unfamiliar with the subject or just have a difficult time processing fast enough. If that’s the case, then you better go and exploit those office hours. Even better, schedule one-on-one appointments to ask questions but please make sure to go in prepared if you’re doing that. Study the material as much as you can beforehand and then ask your professor questions on problems you can’t comprehend on your own. By doing this, you not only boost your grades up, but you also develop a more personal relationship with your professor that you can’t find in a huge lecture hall.
Third, don’t turn down a free or insanely cheap trip! During my second semester, I was lucky to have gotten closer to friends who always checked their emails for upcoming trips that different clubs had organized. I went to the visit the Amish in Lancaster and my friends were able to go to New York twice for a low price. Planning a trip with friends can lead to expensive transportation costs but when the school clubs organize it, you can avoid that and still get to go with friends. Yes, you may think that a trip to visit the Amish people is stupid but I am a huge advocate of educating yourself by exploring the world. You need to get out there and really immerse yourself into different environments to learn valuable lessons or even feel grateful for what you have. Besides, everything is better when it’s free!
Appreciate your alone time.
This is something that I never really had growing up. Because I lived with my grandparents, there was always someone at home with me so I never really had the luxury to have proper me-time. But once I got to college, I took advantage of all the time I had to just do what I wanted and what made me happy. When my roommate wasn’t in the room, I blasted my music and did skincare. I did dumb solo activities behind closed doors and sometimes, I would even take hikes up sketchy roads past midnight just to get a place with killer views so I can relax my mind alone. Especially for an introvert like me, spending time with people all day can be incredibly draining. I love my friends and I do have my moments when I just want to socialize with everyone but I also need the time and space to get away from people and stare into space alone. It’s extremely therapeutic and a perfect time to replenish yourself.
Study whatever makes you happy.
Since I was first introduced to biology, I always thought that it would be the major I would stick with until I graduated from college. My high school didn’t offer a lot of interesting classes so I took as many natural science courses as my schedule could allow, thinking that that was the path that would lead me to a stable, happy future. But after two semesters of general chemistry, I soon realized that I hated it, and if majoring in biology meant taking more chemistry, it wouldn’t be worth it. Besides, I knew I didn’t want to do pre-med so that helped rule biology out and give me room to turn towards other majors to see what I really enjoyed. Though I don’t know what I want to do with my life and where I’m headed, starting this upcoming fall semester as a sophomore, I will be majoring in Psychology and Anthropology. I hope to go into cultural studies within those two majors and though it’s not as stable as being a doctor or an engineer, they’re both studies that interest me and genuinely make me want to learn. If that means I have to put in the extra effort to look for a stable job after I finish school, then so be it. Your career will be a big portion of your life and you need to do something that you find enjoyable, otherwise, you’ll be miserable every day at work. So go find what makes you happy and pursue it.