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Hindsight Is 20-20: Advice from A College Graduate
The Famous University of Georgia Arch
Where to begin?
Just like any college freshman, you're going to be scared going away for the first time. I tried convincing myself that it wouldn't make a difference with me going away. I was ready to grow up. I mean, think about all of the new adventures I was going to have and all of the incredible people I was going to meet. Don't get me wrong, this is definitely true. However, you need to admit to yourself that it's going to be a major life change. It will affect you more than you think it will.
Step One: Admit to yourself that you are going to miss the comforts of home. Realize that you may get homesick. Everyone does. You are no less of a person for missing your family.
What if I choose the wrong major?
Not everyone knows when they're 18 what they want to do for the rest of their lives. Some might call those people lucky. I know quite a few people who would disagree. College graduation requirements generally have space for some electives. Take some interesting classes! I took Introduction to Africa because I think the culture is so interesting. I took Abnormal Psychology because it took a look into the human mind and the processes and reasoning behind some of society's most misunderstood ailments. These were some of my favorite classes at UGA.
It is becoming more and more common for people to take 5 years to complete their college degree. Then a large portion of people continue on into graduate school. High school isn't the time to decide what you want to do forever. Forget aptitude tests and career placement tests.
Follow your passion. If you're doing what you love, then you'll never work a day in your life. If you need to change your major five times to figure out what it is you like, then so be it. Just make sure you follow your passion.
Baz Luhrmann - "Everybpdy's Free (To Wear Sunscreen)"
How am I supposed to make friends?
I'm sure people have said it before, but I cannot stress how important it is to GET INVOLVED. I had a plethora of high school friends who went to the same university I did. These friends are still some of the most incredible people I've ever met, but it is not wise to rely on these friendships. Branch out! Get involved!
My first semester at UGA, I kept to myself more than I should have. I met some friends on my hall and just assumed that was going to be enough. It wasn't. I found a dance company through one of the girls I danced with at my old studio, and it absolutely changed my college career. Those were (and still are) incredible people who have become some of my greatest friends.
I joined a charity for something I was really passionate about. It was called UGA HEROs: Hearts Everywhere Reaching Out. We worked with children and families in the Metro-Atlanta and surrounding areas who have been affected by HIV/AIDS. I sat next to a girl at graduation who I first met in that club.
My high school friends and I were able to rally together for Relay for Life. We had a wonderful friend who battled cancer throughout high school and fell victim our sophomore year. We did Relay throughout high school and continued the legacy and our fight for her in college.
Are you a passionate artist? There's a club for that. Do you like to go ziplining? There's a club for that. Are you a fitness enthusiast? There's a club for you too. Colleges and universities have such a plethora of different ways to get involved. It would be a waste of four (or five) years to spend it inside alone.
What's the most valuable piece of advice you have?
This is the most important takeaway I had from college. Now, I didn't do it as much as I should have, but everyone has their own way of doing things. I have seen it in practice, so I know it works.
Study with your classmates. Most of the time, when you get into your major, you end up having a lot of the same classes with the same people. If you're going to be stuck with these people until graduation, you might as well get to know them. There is no better way than studying for the big midterm. Everyone has their own contributions and assets to the class, whether it is actually in class or outside of class.
I always got to classrooms early on test day. Everyone is spouting out different information of what they think is more important or what they heard might be a short answer question. Being surrounded by those who are in the same position as you is invaluable.
Once of my friends had a few intense classes last semester that involved memorization and classification of hundreds of different animals. He would spend hours in the lab with his friends going over everything. It's the greatest way to develop friendships.
Not only are you surrounded by a wealth of information, but you are also working directly with the people who share similar passions as you. How can you not enjoy your company?
Disclaimer: Studying with those who are your friends may lead to time goofing off, so make sure you have a good balance of work and fun.
-Rent your textbooks for your core classes. Whether you rent from Amazon or Chegg, don't waste your money on English 101. You'll never use that textbook again.
-Conversely, buy the textbooks that will be the most use to you after graduation. Whether it is your Introduction to Anatomy book or Principles of Organizational Behavior, build your assets for your future.
-Take advantage of meal plan. Goodness gracious, meal plan is so expensive. Being a college freshman, there really isn't a way around it as most dorms don't have a full kitchen, and you can only eat microwaved meals so many times. I did not take advantage of mealtime when I was in school, and I so wish I was. If you're studying until (or past) midnight, it never hurts to take a break and go get some breakfast. Seriously. Biscuits and gravy at midnight will do the trick to get you through midterms.
-Sit with someone you might not know. It could be uncomfortable at first, but there are only so many tables anywhere for everyone to sit by themselves. Who knows? This person may become your new best friend. Don't be afraid to introduce yourself and see if you can't find some common ground.
-Establish your notetaking means EARLY. Personally, I take notes better on my laptop as I type faster than I can write. I know others who get too distracted with the availability of the internet at their fingertips. Maybe you're somewhere in between. Figure out what works best for you, and perfect it over the years.
-Take advantage of your school's resources. Use the library for studying and supplementary readings. Go to the career center for mock interviews and seminars on how to perfect your resume. Connect with your alumni network.
-Enjoy some free fun! Check your university's calendar. Chances are they'll have discounted movies or free events around campus.
-Take advantage of the fitness center or gym. If you want to stay away from the Freshman 15, then there's no better excuse to join the gym! When you pay your athletic fees, students generally get access to fitness rooms for free. I paid for a pass to take various classes (Zumba, Body Pump, etc) because that motivates me more.
I surely hope this was able to help someone. Maybe if not you, then a friend or family member. I'd love to share my experiences with you in the hopes that my mistakes and lessons might help someone in the future.