Your first year of college should be the craziest time of your life and consist of many solo cups, “wish-you-hadn’ts,” and a few pointless attempts at finding yourself. At least, that’s what my first year at UF included. Many people tried to calm me down and get me to focus on the more lasting and important things, but I was too busy having the time of my life. Little did I know, by the time I reached my senior year, less than a month from graduation, I would finally understand what they were all talking about.
1. Build a name for yourself EARLY on. Oh, you had a 6.29 GPA and were the most popular girl in high school? That’s cool. No one gives a flying fuck. Higher education is an entirely different chess board and ALL students are pawns that no one cares about until you make them care. Start a YouTube channel and become the next Niykee Heaton. Don’t just join a club, create one, which targets something you’re passionate about and lead a group of eager students to change the world. Write for your local newspaper and create an archive of all of your published work.
2. Become best friends with your professors. They’re the ones fueling your GPA now and can write recommendation letters for grad school or jobs later.
3. Participate in classes. Ask questions, give answers and be present outside of the attendance check.
4. Fall in love multiple times and I don’t mean with people. Things, places, songs, artists, writers. Whatever fits your fancy.
5. Get a part-time job, even if you don’t need one.
6. Plan for your future. You’re not bullet proof, no matter how much you disagree, so make choices that your future self will thank you for later.
7. Make friends in many different groups. This will allow you to expand your horizons and connections in all different types of atmospheres. You’ll be cultured and that’s seriously important when you start applying for positions after college.
8. It’s not the end of the world. You got an F on a test, you had to withdraw from a class, and the “love of your life” left you. Whatever. Move on. Life isn’t going to stop, so you shouldn’t either. Use each “end of the world” experience as an opportunity to grow instead.
9. You WILL grow apart from your high school friends. Sure, there will be those few that you check in with and invite to your wedding, but once you accept this fact, you’ll find new friends in college who will enrich you and be a lot more mature than your old ones were anyways.
10. Be careful what you put on social media. My professor/mentor kept shoving this down my throat and I never saw a problem with it until I found out my friend wasn’t offered a position with an amazing firm in Atlanta because they snooped on his Facebook and Instagram. Don’t post pictures of yourself drinking, smoking, or participating in any other activities of questionable legality and keep the swearing to a minimum.
11. Be aware of what you allow other people to post on your social media sites, too. Maybe you don’t take pictures of yourself at a bar or party, but you have friends that do and like to tag you. Same effect as the above.
12. Become an independent early on. Not to sound extremely cynical, but from experience, people will always let you down. Literally, the only person in the entire world that will never let you down is yourself, so instead of being dependent on others to bring you happiness, learn to create a little happiness of your own.
13. Call your family. No matter how annoying your grandmother is when she talks about Facebook, no matter how obnoxious your dad can be when you even mention the possibility of a potential boyfriend, and no matter how much your little brother gets on your nerves, call them often. You’re in college now, so they’re going to give you your space, but, I promise, once you get to the end of the rope, you’re going to regret not cultivating those relationships.
14. Laugh at the stupid shit instead of letting it ruin your time in college. You got rejected? So what. You fell off your bike in front of everyone? So what. You’re wearing the same outfit as your arch enemy at the biggest party of the semester? So fucking what.
15. Blonde isn’t your color. I was blonde freshman year and just, no. The faux hawk, crop tops, and fumanchu will never be things you look back on and wish you had again.
16. Read the news, and no, I don’t mean the daily Cosmo blog. Keep up to date with important occurrences in local and national news. Not only will this make you inevitably more cultured and aware, but you can also hold actual human to human conversations about meaningful material. Who would have thought?
17. You and your parents will disagree about what’s best for you, no matter how close you are to them.
18. You’ll probably be wrong about what’s best for you a few times, but that’s just another opportunity for self-improvement.
19. STI’s and pregnancy are very real things. Don’t be silly, wrap your willy.
20. Make lasting memories that don’t involve booze. Sometimes the funniest stories are from the times when you don’t remember much about the event, but when reminiscing about your time in college, it’s good to have at least half of your memories be actual… memories.
21. Your body’s performance is directly related to how you treat it. Go to the gym, eat healthily, quit smoking, get lots of sleep, etc.
22. Find something you’re really good at early on and shot gunning a beer does not count.
23. Apply for internships and jobs that target the thing you’re really good at to gain experience in a professional setting.
24. Make strong connections with people in the industry of the thing you’re really good at. Sometimes it really is all about who you know.
25. Create a contact list of industry connections and anyone who can help you get where you want to be in your profession and keep up to date with what they’re personally doing or have done in the past that got them where they are today. E.g., follow their blog or sign up to receive updates from them about their daily experiences in the industry via email.
26. Treasure the ones who helped get you where you are today. Never take someone who lifted you up for granted.
27. Construct a kick ass resume that will showcase your talents in a way that would make it easy to choose you out of a list of 50 prospective employees.
28. Be constantly working to improve your resume. There’s no slowing down when it comes to success.
29. At least ¼ of your income should be placed in a savings/emergency account. Unless you want to be stuck on the side of the road somewhere with a blown transmission, don’t use the last of your money on those pair of shoes you have in almost every other color.
30. Attend as many school functions as you’re able. This leads back to the lasting memories point. Go to sports functions, school plays, karaoke and/or movie nights, etc.
31. Living on your own isn’t as glamorous as it seems. You’re finally out of your parents’ house and you can do whatever you want whenever you want, but that high will soon dwindle and you’ll somewhat miss being told how to live your life.
32. The friends you have freshman year will not be the same ones you have senior year. Your small clique will hopefully stay the same, but the people you hang out with will change every year.
33. Become a mentor to someone who wants to be where you are someday.
34. The only people that matter are the ones who were there from day one to day one million. Cherish those.
35. Make yourself responsible for another life. For example, adopt a puppy from the animal shelter. Its hard work that requires a lot of responsibility and the experience will teach you the importance of time management and will provide lots of inevitable happiness.
36. There are people in this world who are only concerned with pleasing themselves. Pinpoint those people early on, because you won’t want them in your life for very long.
37. Create a Linkedin profile and a personal website to have a secluded location of all of your strengths and accomplishments for future employers to access.
38. Take classes seriously. You’re paying thousands of dollars for them, might as well get your money’s worth.
39. You will “find yourself” at least five separate times while you’re in college and each one of these life altering experiences will help you finally become the person you’re meant to be.
40. Change is never a bad thing and, if it is, find a way to learn from it and make it a necessary lesson.
41. You can pretty much rent every textbook you need.
42. Don’t wait until the last minute to study for a final/write a 10 page paper. Found this one out the hard way.
43. If you have them, start paying off your loans early. Don’t wait until after you’ve already graduated and have $50,000+ of debt thrown your way.
44. Go to office hours with your professors if you’re struggling in a class. Otherwise, they’ll just sit in their office playing Candy Crush for three hours every Tuesday and Thursday.
45. Always be looking for ways to better yourself. There’s always room for improvement, no matter how awesome you think that you are.
46. Learn time management early on. You’ll treasure this necessary quality forever.
47. Develop yourself as a professional early on. Attend workshops, publicize yourself, showcase your talents, go to career fairs, etc.
48. Explore employment options outside of your college/home town. It’s healthy to branch out and force yourself out of your comfort zone and the opportunities are endless.
49. Be confident in your abilities. If you don’t believe in yourself, who the fuck will?
50. Have fun, but remember college wasn’t created as a venue for 4+ years of partying. That degree on your wall will look amazing, yes, but when you leave here, will people remember you as more than that girl who slept with all of Pike?