Before I begin giving my biased advice on how to succeed in college, let me give you a tidbit of background. I’m one of those kids who always knew what career path I wanted to pursue. As a result, I knew I was going to college as soon as I graduated high school, I knew what I would major in, and by the 11th grade I even knew what classes I would be taking for the 4 years I’d be furthering my education. Going into college, I had a good idea of what I wanted and had high hopes that I would achieve all of those things. To my surprise, not everything I expected happened the way I planned. And though I thought I was prepared for the “college life”, I had no idea what I was about to get into.
From the time I stepped onto my alma mater soil, I began to evolve into a person the younger me would not have ever recognized. I find it amazing how “college life” can drastically change a young person (I specify young person because college life for a more experienced adult is not the same). It’s as if the young person has stepped into a different time zone; not like those of Eastern Standard or Pacific Standard Time. No, this time zone tells time by the evolution of self through different experiences, decisions, and judgment calls. I call this time zone, maturity.
Thus, the point I’m trying to make is this; no matter how prepared for life or how grown you think you are, there is no greater shift from childhood to adulthood (AKA from ignorant bliss to reality) than the one a young person will experience in college. In college you will be faces with many things. The type of person you are will determine what you will allow yourself to be consumed with for the next 4 years of your life. Hence, you will truly learn what you are all about due to the freedom of choosing whatever it is you want to do. My main piece of advice is, to be true to you! Do this by learning who you are, what you stand for, and what you believe in. Remember what you do once you will likely do again, and repetition becomes routine. So in time, if you learn you do not like who you are, make the necessary changes to becoming someone you want to be.
Here are some tips that will not only help you succeed in college, but also help you learn to be who you are at the core…
1. Open up your mind: Don’t be afraid to try new things. You will never know what you stand for if you’ve never experienced anything. So meet new people, go to different places, get involved with campus activities. As long as you know right from wrong (and you are not crazy or a fool) you have all the tools needed to develop into an experienced and confident adult.
2. Follow your gut: While we’re on the topic of knowing right from wrong, let me advise you to ALWAYS do what you know and feel is right. I can tell you from my experience that there are times I wish I didn’t go against my gut feeling because I could’ve avoided a big, messy disaster. I know what it is like to fall for peer pressure, and I’m telling you trying to impress someone is never worth what it takes to do so. You will either hurt someone who loves you, or you won’t be as satisfied with yourself as you thought you would be. So if you have a feeling you shouldn’t go to a party or hang out with a certain person, you probably shouldn’t. If something inside is telling you no, don’t go or don’t do it…LISTEN!
3. Have a plan: Now, it is important to know ahead of time that things will not always go according to your plans. In fact, you should learn early that things will seldom ever go exactly the way you planned. However, it is better to have a plan than to have none at all. You should at least have a way to record your short term and long term goals- whether it be in a planner or in your brain (though for me, it’s better on paper). I advise you to make a to – do list. It can be daily, weekly, bi-weekly, however you want to do it as long as the list helps you achieve your goals. I know it’s corny but a college kid can truly attest to that saying, “if you fail to plan, plan to fail”. Organization is key for any student who plans to succeed in college as well as in life.
4. Go to class: Take it from me. Just go to class. That’s the whole point of you being in college anyways! Don’t be the kid who pulled out thousands of dollars of student loans to drop out because you missed class. After high school, education is no longer free. You’re paying for the knowledge you might or might not gain…keep that in mind.
5. Accept change: Literally and figuratively- Figuratively because this is the time in your life where you will experience the most change you’ve ever faced. You might lose all your friends. Your relationship with your parents might get better or worse. You might be used to getting straight A’s and find that you may get a B or C. Don’t lose hope or faith because your life seems to shift in a way you are not used to. Part or being an adult is knowing change is inevitable and being able to adapt is a sure sign of maturity. The other part of being an adult is knowing you need to make money, so literally accept change. Get a job (preferably part time). Nothing will make you or your parents happier than you getting your own paycheck.
Everyone’s college experience is different. But everyone who went to college will most likely say it was a defining time of their lives- the time when they learned a lot about how life works, and who they are as a person. For me, college was the best time of my life thus far, and I’m thankful to God that I am the person I am today.
I’m not saying I would re-live my college days (because that was the most broke era of my life…oh yeah, prepare to be broke!), but if I did, I would not change anything about my college experience; the good or the bad. I hope in following my advice, you feel the same way about your college experience once you’ve graduated. The college life is unlike any other thing you will ever experience, so live it up, because it goes by fast and will be over before you know it. Trust me!