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Feb 2 / Danielle Wright

Ten Things College Has Taught Me

College teaches you more than what you learn in the classroom. While classes and academic learning are a huge part of college, there is so much more to it! College has taught me:

  1. How to be independent. Living on your own in college can send you into a whirl-wind of emotions. It is liberating, exciting, and scary all at once. At first you may go a little bit wild and make some mistakes, but by your second year you start to figure some stuff out. Living on my own has taught me that my parents were right when they said “Don’t be in a hurry to grow up.” You have to do your own laundry, buy your own groceries, figure out your own finances, do taxes, and work…a lot!! While it was all very overwhelming at first, it has taught me how to be independent.
  2. Who my real friends are. You go into college with all of these friends from high school who you think will be your friends for life. While this can definitely happen, sometimes it doesn’t and friends drift apart. Some of your friends may go to different colleges, hours away or across state borders and those phone calls you promised each other start to become less and less frequent. You meet friends your freshman year who you spend every waking hour with, but by sophomore year you don’t even speak to them. Sometimes you have a huge group of friends, old and new, but when times get tough you figure out who will actually be there for you when it counts. Some friends are what I like to call “sometime friends.” They are the ones who will occasionally have lunch with you, say “Hi” when you pass on the way to class, or who you ask for notes when you miss a lecture. Your real friends are those who will answer your calls at three in the morning because you are freaking out, who will be there with a tub of ice cream and chick flicks when you go through a bad breakup, and the ones who will be your designated hair holder when your night takes a turn for the worst. Some friends just outgrow one another while others grow stronger and there is nothing wrong with either one.
  3. How to better budget my money (this one is still a work in progress). Life is expensive! You have to pay for classes, books, food, gas, rent, and of course coffee because surviving college without it just doesn’t seem possible. Sometimes your wallet gets a little tight. Things can get stressful when you’re trying to keep your finances straight. Luckily there are apps for that! Three great apps that have helped me are RetaillMeNot, Mint, and my bank’s mobile app. These apps can help you save, budget, and keep track of your account balances. However, even with all of this technological help, this is still college and things will always be tight when it comes to money. There will be times that you have to decide between spending money to go out with your friends and eating for the rest of the week. But making those tough financial decisions and learning how to save and spend your money wisely is a huge part of being in college and living on your own.
  4. I have learned more about myself as a person than I ever thought I would. College is all about finding yourself. Sometimes what you learn and who you become can surprise you. Just remember that it’s ok to change your career path, future goals, life plans, friends, point of view, and even majors and minors. College is all about change, so don’t be afraid of it.
  5. That calendars and agendas will be your best friends until the day you graduate and maybe even after. Life can get a little hectic and busy! Class, work, homework, friends, family…there can be a lot going on at once and it all needs your attention. If you don’t write things down and keep track of all you have going on, you can get very overwhelmed trying to remember everything. My agenda and phone calendar have saved my life on more than one occasion. It has saved me from missing assignment deadlines and shifts at work. In order to stay sane and keep track of all you have going on, keep yourself organized and utilize the resources you have in order to do so.
  6. What the word “stressed” really means and how to handle it. Like I said before, life can get a little crazy. Trying to get everything done can seem like an impossible feat and breakdowns will happen. One thing that I have learned is that while you may want to be involved in as much as possible, you have to be able to know when you have enough on your plate. I have found that staying organized, making a little “me” time for Netflix and ice cream, and having good friends to help you de-stress and have a little fun are all things that can be incredibly helpful in trying to manage stress. Sadly, there’s no way to avoid it all together, but being able to lessen it in any way will help tremendously!
  7. Your advisor will be your savior. At first, I thought that I didn’t need my advisor and I could handle everything on my own. After a couple weeks I realized I was wrong. College is confusing and completely different than high school. You need to make sure that you have all the gen. eds and credits you need every semester and figuring out your schedule in order to make that happen can be overwhelming. Your advisor knows all of the secrets and has magical scheduling powers, so meet with them and ask questions. They are here to help!
  8. That if you have an 8 am class no one expects you to look good.It’s 8am on a college campus. Half of your classmates were up all night finishing that ten page research paper while the other half had a few too many while out with their friends last night. It is an unspoken, campus-wide agreement that, before noon, no judgment will be passed when you go to class looking like you stepped straight out of an episode of the Walking Dead.
  9. That it is ok to make mistakes! If you are going to mess up these are the years to do it. College is when you are figuring things out and sometimes you have to learn things the hard way by screwing up a few times before you get it right. As cheesy as it sounds, you learn from your mistakes. So by all means, make mistakes! Maybe not life-changing mistakes, but little ones that help you learn what not to do next time. If you don’t question your judgment at least a few times during your college career, then you aren’t doing college right!
  10. You may think that you are a totally independent adult now, but the truth is that you still need your mommy and daddy sometimes and that is nothing to be ashamed of.     When I first went away to college I thought that it meant I was an independent adult who didn’t need her parents to lean on anymore. After about two weeks, I came to the realization that I was incredibly wrong. There are still so many things I don’t know and in the past two years of college I have had to make some tough decisions that I needed my parents’ guidance on. I still don’t fully understand how taxes work, sometimes my car makes weird sounds that only my dad can fix, and sometimes boys are stupid and the only one who understands is my mom. I am not ashamed to admit that I just turned 20 and I need my parents now more than ever.