What I Wish I Had Done Differently In College

With school back in season I can’t help but feel nostalgic about my college experience. I’ve heard college would be the best years of my life; which I didn’t  necessarily find true but they were definitely good. If you do college/university right I believe you have the perfect time to really craft your life. As a quick disclaimer; I do not think college is for everybody or at all necessary. But if you are in college, this time should be used to ensure emotional, mental and professional success. So below is a quick list of things I would’ve done differently.

  1. Differentiate between real friends and acquaintances – When you are constantly meeting new people it is hard to differentiate between someone who is really your friend and someone who is just good to party with. It takes some time but it’s really important to realize who genuinely cares and who just wants to split the price of a handle with you.
  2.  Speak up in class and ask questions– As an introvert, I hated asking questions and for the most part avoided speaking in classes unless participation was part of my final grade. At the end of the day, we are all paying those professor’s thousands of dollars so might as well get the most out of them.
  3.  Know the decisions made in the past don’t define me forever – With the brain not reaching maturity until 25 it’s no wonder so many mistakes are made in college. Rather than dwelling on them take them as a lesson learned and try your best not to repeat them. I always think it’s much better to make mistakes when we are young anyway.
  4. Be pickier with unpaid work – My main goal was to fill my resume; regardless of whether the experience was beneficial or not. BUT, if you’re going to spend your time with no compensation please make sure you are learning something and adding value to the organization. Some of my unpaid internships were a waste of everyone’s time.
  5. Be more appreciative – For the most part, this is the time when you can really be selfish. If you live on campus, appreciate having your dining, classes, living and partying choices in walkable distances. Appreciate not having to worry about your electric bill when you live in a dorm. Appreciate being able to take naps mid-day. Now more than ever, I miss all these perks of college.
  6. Actually Contribute to Organizations – I was repeatedly told to join student organizations which I did and didn’t at the same time. I would attend the kick-off meetings, pay any duties, write my email down and that’s about it. I just wanted to list the organization on my resume and LinkedIn. In hindsight, obtaining a leadership position within a student organization is a great way to get your foot in the door, spend time with your friends and potentially allow you to skip the non-paid internships.
  7.  Negotiate – Now is the time to use your words wisely and go after whatever it is you want. Since you are probably starting from the bottom hearing, “no” really shouldn’t mean anything.
  8. Become a Smarter Shopper – I know most of us are broke in college but too much money was wasted on cheap furniture, clothes, and decorations that had to be thrown out or repurchased every year. I can’t help but think if I had bought better quality I would have saved money in the long haul. I now have piles of clothes that are of no use because I don’t think charities want my trashy crop tops.
  9. Clean and organize the spaces I was  in – Between small dorm rooms and living in older houses it’s so important to actually clean the space. It will help keep your mind focused and overall just more pleasant to live in.
  10. Learn More  – If you have the time, this is the perfect opportunity to try out and learn new skills. Chances are your school provides a lot of resources that are included with your tuition that you may be unaware of.  Learn how to code, take photography, make wine, do Zumba, etc so that when you graduate you aren’t paying for services you could have gotten for no additional charge.

Comment below to let me know if you can relate to any of these or have your own tips to add!

4 thoughts on “What I Wish I Had Done Differently In College

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  1. Amanda: What a wonderful, transparent sharing of the real world of college and the good/bad decisions so many of us make….in the 20/20 hindsight view mirror. I just have to ask you, “When did your Dad give you permission to be so grown-up?”. He must be so proud, but hard to let go of his little girl. Now then, “Moms”, we thrive on our daughter’s success. I know your Mom and she has to be smiling so brightly. Keep on doing the good, that naturally emanates from within you!! You have evolved to a very beautiful and intelligent young sister!

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  2. Unpaid work is definitely one I cannot stress enough. Some organisations will simple take advantage and work you like a puppy. A girl at my uni had a marketing internship and on her first day the company’s receptionist called in sick. They made her do repetition for two straight days, unpaid, with nothing to with marketing. It was so bad that the university had to get involved. So yeah, is definitely say to be very picky about unpaid work. Great post!

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