College seniors can look back and see things in a different light. In talking with college seniors about what they wish they had known, what they thought had been good advice, and what they would like to share with first year students, they were eager to offer words of wisdom.
What they wish they had known
You may feel like you don’t want to get involved or that you’re not ready to join in campus activities, but you can live through it and come to appreciate getting involved.
Planners are good things to have on hand from the first day.
Working on the campus newspaper is great to meet the deans, meet members of various clubs, and be in the know. It’s great to walk around campus and recognize people and know what’s going on.
Lots of bonds and friendships are formed after nine o’clock; don’t go to bed too early.
It’s important to get off campus. This is a chance to see things you may not have experienced.
Don’t keep a major you don’t like because it’s easier credit-wise. It’s better to earn your degree in five years than be unhappy with your degree after four years.
Bringing movies to school is a great way to meet people in the dorm. You can watch them, share them, and swap them with others.
You have to balance athletics with school work. Being in athletics is great, but without balance your involvement can be a real drain on your academic work, especially your first year.
A lot of people are very good friends with those students they met during the freshman orientation; those activities are important to attend.
People at college don’t tell you all you need to know. You are going to have to find out things for yourself. For example, they don’t tell you a couple years ahead of time what you’ll need to get into graduate school or how to go about getting a job.
You don’t need to buy a lot of decorations for your room. Be creative. Old maps are free. Old records (LPs) can be nailed up easily.
It’s not a bad idea to get involved with your residence hall governing board. You can get funding for events in your dorm. If your board is active, that means free food every month, and you can have some influence on the atmosphere for your dorm life.
What they thought was good advice
Join at least one college activity your first year.
Sit in the front of the classroom and get to know your professor by talking in, after, or before class or go to her office.
Live on campus. You’ll feel disconnected if you don’t.
If you go out to party, then party. If you set out to study, then study. One doesn’t complement the other. Either enjoy freely or get your work done.
Dress well the first day of classes. You are making a first impression.
Have only one credit card, and PAY IT OFF EVERY month. These things are trouble.
College shouldn’t be about spending your money but about learning to manage your money.
Flip flops are good for group shower rooms.
School isn’t vacation.
You can apply to too many expensive schools and not to enough moderately priced schools!
You may think people know better, but there is nothing more ineffective than waiting for them to catch on. If you have a problem with a professor, a roommate, or a friend, have an open dialogue with them. Sit down and discuss it.
What they would share with first year students
Transition from high school to college is really not night and day. Things shouldn’t overwhelm you.
Don’t bring all your books, all your clothes, or all you decorations with you. First, the room is small. Second you may want to create the décor after living there a week or two, and you’ll never need all those t-shirts.
Plan your wardrobe to fit different needs. Don’t bring 5 pairs of jeans when 2 would be enough. But, you might need a dress or a sports jacket.
College is a great experience but it’s work too.
Grades are not the only thing in college. It’s natural to have good and bad semesters, as long as there isn’t only one trend. A failure is not the end of the world, and a 4.0 may mean your haven’t experienced everything about college life that you can.
Don’t party too much. It’s not a good feeling in your junior or senior year having been written up or having your name in “police beat.” It’s not good to be trying to make up a failure, especially when you mess up the sequence for course requirements.
But, you should at least have the experience of the crazy party because it’s a quintessential thing and going out once a month keeps you connected.
Don’t carry over your boyfriend from high school; now’s a chance to explore.
And, you don’t have to meet your husband in college, and you certainly don’t have to be engaged by graduation!
Go to the campus gym. It’s a happy place. You don’t have to meet anyone; just get those endorphins going and feel good about yourself.
It’s okay to borrow money if you need it, but don’t get loans for living. Debt lasts a long time for a few months of easy living.
Don’t ask your parents for money all the time; get independent.
Apply for scholarships every year you’re in college. You can get them.
Headphones help avoid fights with roommates.
Get to know your Resident Director and/or your Resident Assistant. To know you is to understand you and some of your behaviors! So you’ll have leeway and also feel more connected.
Weigh laptop vs. desktop carefully. One isn’t better than the other, just different. If you want to be able to study in different places, get the laptop, but a desktop isn’t as easily stolen, and it could last longer (and is often less expensive).
Parking a car is a problem, especially in the city, but also on any campus. Think about it.
Interactive décor is great as an ice breaker. Take a picture of your roommate and photocopy a lot of outlines of that picture using Photoshop. The visitors can have fun drawing on the head, adding accessories, etc. Then you can decorate with the drawings. Or, buy an old hat and have everyone who comes to your room pose with it for a picture that you print cheaply at Wal-Mart and make a poster out of.