Chloe Daniels is a University of Iowa graduate who double majored in English and Spanish. After spending some time working a nine to five job in her hometown, she decided to pick up and move to China where she is currently teaching English to children of all ages. You can follow her adventures on chloedoeschina.com.
College was a whirlwind experience for me. I went to community college for a year and a half, transferred midyear into a four year university where I then studied abroad, and graduated a semester early. I was always working, I was always overloading my class load, and I was generally a stressed mess throughout the whole three and a half years.
After being out in the workforce for two years now, I know that there are many things I’d do differently if I could go back. Here’s a bit of advice I’d give my younger self.
1. Put your health first. How can you enjoy all that college has to offer if your constantly sick and tired? It’s easy to get sick in college especially when you live in the dorms, or you have a tendency to eat all processed foods and rarely see a vegetable. Make your health a priority so that you can flourish in all that you do. College is hard enough without feeling like you need a shot of espresso at all hours of the day. Sleep. Eat green things. Drink lots of water. Find a balance between work and play.
2. Get involved. Let’s be honest. You’re not entirely sure what you want to do with your life yet, and that’s okay. While you’re busy “finding yourself”, why not get involved with some groups that may interest you? You’re not going to have an epiphany of what your life’s purpose is while sitting on the couch, binge watching Netflix. Joining a group or organization will help you try on different outfits of your personality, allowing you to choose the one you think suits you best. It’ll help you form more ideas about what you do want out of life, help you eliminate some avenues that you aren’t so interested in, and at the same time you’ll work on your time management skills, meet new people, and build your resume. Sometimes it’s hard to know what your heart desires, and the best way to discover your passions is by trying new things, and seeing what feels right.
3. Free yourself from the ideas of who you think you are “supposed” to be. Your path is not paved yet, your book has yet to be written, and your journey into the creation of yourself is just beginning. Maybe your whole life you’ve had an idea of who you think you should be, or who you think your parents want you to be, but try to ignore those thoughts and decide for yourself. If you don’t know, that’s okay too because the next four years are permission to take the time to figure it out. College is an opportunity to develop and grow, so let go of any feelings of obligation, and grasp hold of the endless possibilities by diving into anything that feels like it might be calling your name. Embrace who you are instead of who you are convinced you should be, and all else will fall into place. College is not the time to live out someone else’s dream.
4. Don’t be afraid to change your mind. Often we enter into new experiences with ideas and plans of exactly how things are going to unfold, but even the best plans sometimes need adjustment. You may not love the major that you decided on when you were eighteen years old and panicked because you wanted to avoid the death sentence of “undeclared.” It’s okay to realize that what you thought you wanted isn’t actually your cup of tea. Admitting that is scary, but I encourage you to not trap yourself inside of fear because sticking with something that doesn’t fulfil you is even more terrifying than adding on a few extra semesters of college. Change it now while you’re still in the middle of your education, or even if you’re close to the end. Change your mind, and change it again, and eventually you’ll land yourself right where you’re meant to be.
5. Talk to your advisors. You do not want to end up taking classes that you didn’t need simply because you didn’t take the time to talk to your advisors about your path towards graduation. Save yourself the trouble, and even when you think you know exactly how to map out your course schedule, go to the advisors office, and have them look over your plan anyway. You never know what loopholes they will find, or what you may have misinterpreted. They are there to advise you. Use them.
6. Be a sponge. Absorb everything you can. See the potential in every moment and view all the companions you meet as life’s little teachers guiding you on your way. College is not an obligation or a chore. The land of college is a magical place, full and ready to bestow on you all the knowledge your head can carry, so be a sponge. Open your mind, release your defences that sometimes make you believe you’re smarter than others, and recognize that you are here to learn all you can from all these people.
7. Celebrate the victories. Every time you conquer a battle that you didn’t think you could win your confidence builds, and you’re encouraged to keep striving forward with your victory flag held high. Revelling in the little victories is vital to creating an endurance that will persevere even when life gets you down, and failures crowd your mind. Stockpile your small successes so that when you’re feeling a shortage of positivity, you can remind yourself of your own capabilities and the times that you triumphed.