10 Things I Wish I Knew Before College

By Jacquez Deloach, GUA 2020 Alumni, University of West Alabama

College is the very visible elephant in every high school classroom across the country. Going to college has been ingrained into the minds of millions of students, but the idea of college and the reality of college are two different warriors competing for dominance. For college to be such a popular suggestion and route for students after high school, why is the transition to college comparable to swimming in muddy waters? Hopefully, by the end of this blog, you’ll have an idea of what to expect, based off my experience as a college freshman. Without further ado, here’s  10 things I wished I knew before attending college. 

1. The Weird dynamic of school being home
This might be an odd ball to some or a pretty obvious one to others, but adjusting to the fact that you live at school is something that may creep up on you. The days of going to school and then leaving to the comfort of your own home are over. You will see your new classmates  practically everywhere, especially in your dorm, the cafeteria, the library, etc. This can cause extreme homesickness and a strong desire to just try to distance yourself from campus as often as possible. However, this can be a huge positive to many. Your new friends you’ll make will be walking distance from you at all times. You’ll eventually feel a personal connection to not just your dorm room, but to your entire campus. This is just one of the weird changes that I understood, but didn’t really think about 

2. Leave your room!
With school and home being fused together, staying in your dorm all day is the last thing you should want to do. Try to always attend classes, study sessions, and club/group meetings. Even if you’re a loner like me, please leave the room just to get some fresh air. Instead of staying in your room studying, try going to the library or a study room. Instead of eating in your room all day, try the cafeteria or nearby restaurants. I’m not encouraging you to stay out all night, but staying in one place all the time will not benefit you in the long run. 

3. There’s a lot of free time.
Another reason you should try to leave your room, is that there’s a lot of idle time in college.  Classes in college last significantly shorter than high school. Which is awesome, but many professors expect you to study and do your own research after class.  Always make time to study and do homework. Let’s be honest, you’re not going to be study all day, everyday, which leads us to number 4. 

4. Healthy Hobbies 
With all your free time after class and homework, you’ll need something worth your time to do. I define a healthy hobby as anything that can benefit you mentally and/or physically. Believe it or not, going to the gym saved my freshmen year. The gym is a great place to released pent up stress and anxiety. I always call it “sweating out the impurities.” Another healthy hobby could be writing, drawing, or really anything as long as it make you feel better. Stay away from hobbies that are harmful to your well-being such as various addictions to substances (drugs, alcohol, chocolate), playing too many video games and watching Netflix all day, and etc. 

5. Healthy diet
Self-explanatory one. There’s something called the “Freshmen 15”, which refers to the phenomenon of freshmen either losing 15 or gaining 15 pounds their first semester. Colleges are surrounded by fast food restaurants and convenient stores full of unhealthy food choices. Eating right will make you feel better and help you study and learn.

6. Your professor is not your enemy 
High school teachers often paint professors as soulless drones who’s only job is to spout a million different topics and concepts to you and leave you to figure it out. While that’s partially true, your professor is also another person with they’re own personalities, problems, and policies. You should always attempt to get to know your professor… Or— 

7. Definitely get to know your advisor
Advisors are somewhat of a college cheat code. Good advisors know everything about your major, the popular teachers, and know of some great scholarship/internship opportunities. 

8. Personal accountability 
College is all about gaining personal responsibility and understanding that everything is on you. Accidents happen. We all have missed a due date or forgot to get our clothes out the dryer, but continuing to allow bad habits affect your grades and reputation isn’t cool or recommended. 

9. Mental Health is Real 
We all want to have a 4.0 GPA, a blossoming social life, and a full 8 hours of sleep. You may have it all, but if your mental health is not stabled, you’ll quickly lose everything. So many college students seem to compete with each other on how stressed out they can be. Our culture’s heavy emphasis on excessive productivity and overworking leads to severe anxiety and depression. Make sure to always use some of the free time I mention earlier to chill out and recuperate. I’ve dealt with depression throughout high school, but college is a whole other battle when it comes to mental health. 

10. Find yourself 
Finding yourself is important all throughout your college journey. You can be a straight A student and graduate with honors, but have nothing to show for it if you really don’t know who you are. Finding yourself isn’t just philosophical. Knowing what major you’re going to pursue, knowing how to study/prepare for class, knowing how you will schedule your day to day life, what type of people you’ll associate with, and so much more. As an official adult, you’ll have to think about yourself a lot more. You only have one life, I highly recommend taking your first years as an adult very seriously.

College is different to everybody. To some it’s freedom from parents, their old reputation, their hometown. To some, it’s a big, ugly mirror that shows all your insecurities and doubts. College will be a major change for most people. But change is good. Embrace all the feelings you’ll encounter during your first semester. It will all be okay, and soon, everything will fall in place. Good luck.

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