7 Things College Taught Me

As the first week of my senior year comes to an end, I have reflected on the 3 years I have already completed. I’ve came to the realization that I am almost nothing like 18 year old Shalayna who set foot on my freshman quad 3 years ago. As a student pursuing my bachelors degree, I have attained a surplus of knowledge regarding numerous topics. However, I feel that my best lessons have been learned outside the classroom.

1. Be Yourself

Though you will find judgmental people everywhere, I guarantee that 90% of people in college do not care what you do. Wear what you want, do what you want, live your life! As long as you are not harming anyone else in the process of becoming your best self, everyone else’s opinions are invalid. And if you do feel that other people are judging you, that looks bad on their part, not yours. Never let what you think other people think of you deter you from living life how you want to.

2. Change is Good

Losing things like friends or even a job may seem like the end of the world, but I promise it’s not. Throughout the course of my college career I’ve lost jobs, friends, and even went through a complete change in my career aspirations. I came into college as an intended Criminal Justice major minoring in Psychology, but currently am a Communications major with a minor in french. Not only do I feel more secure in this field, I also have better grades, more opportunities afforded to me, and a constant state of mind that has no desire to do anything but spew creativity. I went from possibly not graduating on time and having an extremely low gpa, to being one class away from fulfilling my major credits and producing borderline dean’s list gpas. Though it is hard to adjust to change, it can benefit you in the future.

3. “Easy Major’s” Do NOT Exist.

I always hear talk of “easy majors” (most of the time being majors such as Art, Communications, History, etc) not deserving to be proud of their good grades because our curriculums don’t require much work. This mindset is seen on social media and regular conversation from many people who are pursing degrees in “hard majors” (Criminal Justice, or any majors in the STEM field), and it can be very discouraging to many students. Though I do admit that my classes in criminal justice were harder than my communications classes, intelligence is subjective, as is the concept of what’s “easy” and what’s “hard”. For example, I can write a quality paper in a decent amount of time, but I struggle with actual exams. While on the other hand, I have friends who can do really well on tests- but cannot write a paper to save their lives. I’ve learned that college is about working in your comfort zone and working at your own pace.

4. “Studying” is NOT for Everyone.

While many people feel that they need to spend hours in the library or their rooms reviewing material to succeed, that is not necessary for everyone. College has taught me that if I personally do not understand the material when it’s taught in the lecture, I will not understand it while studying. So I pay as much attention as I can and take good notes in order to produce good grades. I remember studying for hours for a criminology exam and getting a C, and paying close attention during the last unit- not studying at all for the final, and getting a B, bringing my overall grade to an 81. As I said though, this is what personally works for me, some close friends of mine have to study for hours to pass, and that doesn’t make either of us dumber/ smarter than the other. It simply means that our brains function different.

5. Networking Matters

When in college, you will meet A LOT of people, but you never know where those simple introductions can take you. I remember meeting a group of upperclassmen through a friend of mine my freshman year. I kept in contact with those people and after they graduated and started a start up company, guess who was granted an internship opportunity? This group of people remembered me discussing certain skills I had, used it to both of our advantages, and helped me prepare myself for post- graduate life. In addition, it will even make events more fun because if you see a person you have class with almost every semester at an event, guess what?-  you could have a new potential acquaintance that could benefit you during (or even after) college.

6. Take Advantage of Being a Student

Many companies offer student discounts or even “Freebies” for students. For example, my university offers free Microsoft Office for all students. When I bought a new laptop, that was very beneficial because I needed to download this software (keep in mind that the full Microsoft Office can retail at about $70 or higher). Also, I got my laptop through a student discount at Apple, which included a free pair of Beats Headphones as well. Your college ID can help you save money in more places than you think. There is even an app called Unidays, that provides student discounts for online as well as physical shops. There are so many ways to use your student advantage, you just have to look.

7. Have Fun and Care for Yourself.

Though I do value my education, I value how I feel inside way more. I am a strong advocate for “mental health days”, and encourage everyone in my circle to take things easy for the sake of their mental health. I have personally had days where I felt very overwhelmed and did not feel that I could handle being in a class environment. If I do not feel well rested, I will give myself a day off to get in the right mindset. Many classes also give a certain amount of excused absence days as well, so if you feel that your mental needs a break- go for it. I promise that you will feel 1000x better. Also, have fun! Don’t let anyone shame you for wanting to party one night instead of studying. Don’t get so stuck on what people tell you you should be doing, that you graduate with a 4.0 and a bunch of “what ifs?” Enjoy college while you’re there because once you graduate, your life will never be the same.

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