Welcome to a whole new world. College, a chance to spread your wings, stay up late, learn new things and eat cold pizza for breakfast. If I could relive a portion of my life, it would be college. If I could relive it, there are several things, however, I wish I knew before starting college.
- I wish I had known about life…
Lots of learning happened when I didn’t expect. After tens of thousands of dollars and hundreds of books, I couldn’t repeat one main point or reproduce one study guide. The learning that will stay is the learning that is done. My learning often came through involvement. Go out of your way to find ways to utilize the stored information until it becomes part of you. This utilization will take different forms depending on your major (particularly if you are a heart surgeon), but find ways to involve yourself.
- I wish I had known about family…
My adventure was a bigger loss for my family, than me. While I was looking forward my family was looking backwards to the way things used to be.
People could not experience my life if I didn’t share. People back home want to know about your life. It helps them feel connected.
They also want you to ask about their life. One of the biggest mistakes is thinking that because it used to be that way when you left that it will stay that way Even if nothing changes at home, the family still wants to tell you about themselves.
Come to think of it, I don’t know if anyone back home knows that my intermural football team went undefeated?
There are lots of ways to keep in contact, but do not forget the simplicity and importance of writing a hand written letter. There is something extremely meaningful about this form of contact especially for moms. I would suggest making a list of all the blessings and skills your family gave you and making it personal.… Mom, thank you for giving me the best years of your life. Thank you for the skills you gave me, potty training has been immensely useful….
- I wish I had known about snacking…
Don’t eat pepperoni pizza past midnight.
Never ever, ever, even think about taking a multivitamin on an empty stomach.
Most granola bars are candy bars in disguise.
Buy Reese’s Puffs when it’s on sale.
Remember not all Ramen noodles are created equal.
Anything from the Dollar store should not be eaten.
(After years of concentrated study and field research,
Maruchan brand should be sought after as the ultimate in epicurean delight.)
- I wish I had known about friends…
I wish I had invested more in friendships. Find people you can invest in. Use your skills and areas of expertise to help people. Don’t be afraid to just hang out.
I wish I had purposefully invested in those who were investing in me. To this day, some of my strongest friends are professors and pastors I met at school. Feel free to take your Pastor (or his wife) out for coffee, send them an email thanking them specifically for their investment. Remember, your home Pastors and wives go through withdrawal seeing their “kids” go off into another world.
Remember your professors. Most professors have been in school for longer than you have been alive, yet even with their education, you probably make more money flipping burgers at McDonalds. They are there because they love you. Talk with them after class, ask them deep questions that show you are interested. Not only will this help you learn more, it may result in a better friendship, and probably a better grade.
- I wish I had known about me…
I spent a lot of time making sure I didn’t fail. Failure makes you stronger. Make sure you put yourself in situations where failure is inevitable. The process of picking yourself up will create character and build stamina for life.
It is easy to have a very egocentric outlook on life. Criticism shows more about me than it does the other person. When you find yourself complaining or not liking a situation ask yourself a few basic questions. “Why don’t I like this?” “What can I change?” “What can I learn?” Be specific in your answers.
As a quick example, when I was at school there was a rather boring professor. The answer to the first question involves stating the facts. He was not engaging, the topic was not made relevant.
Part of my solution was found in the answer to the second question, “What can I change?” I realized I could not change the teacher, but I could engage by asking questions, and make the lesson relevant by talking to him about the significance after class.
In answer to the third question, “What can I learn?” I analyzed the teaching style and kept track of things I would do as a teacher, and things I wouldn’t. After asking those three questions, a boring informational class actually became a time of intense personal learning.
- Things I am glad somebody told me…
Keep a journal. It will help you analyze your thoughts and is an excellent resource.
Wake up at the same time. It is tempting to sleep in on off days, but your body will work better on a schedule.
Take a power nap. 15 minute naps are like plugging in your smart phone while online.
Plan ahead. Get big projects like reading done at the beginning of the semester. (Make sure to check if there are requirements attached such as a weekly quiz or report.)
Exercise with a friend.
Don’t date the first semester. (Desperate people are looking for you…!)
Pursue personal interests.