With my impending graduation right around the corner, I feel obligated to share some of the valuable life lessons I’ve had bestowed upon me over the past four years. Your 20’s are when you begin to figure out who you really are and what it is that you really want out of life. Truthfully, I can still remember my first day of college like it was yesterday. I had a blast, made (and dated) several mistakes along the way, but I learned more than I ever thought was possible in such a small time span—at least in the grand scheme of things. While I learned a ton throughout college academically, I can honestly say that the wisdom extended well beyond the classroom.Whether you’re freshman just starting out on your four-year journey or a senior getting ready to embark on a new chapter of life, I hope you find this list useful in some way, shape or form.
1. If you have no idea what you want to do with your life as you start (or finish) college, that’s okay.
At the ripe age of 18, many of us don’t have the rest of our lives planned out. If you did, more power to you. But when I was that age, I was more interested in planning my outfits for the week than mapping out my future career goals. I picked Legal Studies as my major, because at one point in time, I was convinced that I wanted to go to law school (I must have watched Legally Blonde one too many times). Turns out, this career path couldn’t have been more wrong for me, and it took spending a summer interning at a law office to figure that out. I loathe arguing. I would make a terrible lawyer! It wasn’t until my senior year of college that I discovered my love for writing and saw the potential to make a career out of it. If you’ve recently graduated and still have no idea where you see yourself in 10 years, don’t fret. You’ll find your passion one day.
2. You will fail. Probably more than once.
No one on this planet is perfect. Not a single person (unless you’re Ryan Gosling, and in that case you are perfect in EVERY SINGLE WAY). It’s inevitable that at some point in your life, and this definitely includes your college career, you will fail at something. Whether it be a specific test you pulled an all-nighter studying all night for, an entire subject you just couldn’t seem to grasp the concept of, or a first date that you made a complete fool of yourself on, you will fail. But guess what? Fall down seven times, stand up eight. You’ll bounce back, and you’ll be even more resilient than you were when you start. The most important thing is that you learn from your failures.
3. Have fun, but stay focused.
This might come as a shocker to some, but your grades in college actually DO matter. Especially if you plan on applying for a graduate program later on down the road, since admissions for many (if not all) of these schools can be extremely competitive. The sooner you learn that procrastination is a deadly sin in the college world, the better off you’ll be. For whatever reason, I’ve always felt that I worked better under pressure. However, this also meant that I would be completely, utterly stressed out the couple of days leading up to a test. I guarantee it will make your life easier if you work on developing and applying healthy study habits early on. While the age old saying, ‘C’s get degrees’ is true in some sense, you should strive to be the best version of yourself, not just in college, but in all aspects of life.
4. Never be afraid to try new things.
Trying new things is an essential part of the whole figuring-out-who-we-really-are process. How do you know if you do (or don’t) like something unless you try? Don’t let the fear of striking out hold you back from playing the game, even beginners have to start somewhere. We’ve all made a fool of ourselves before, but life gets infinitely easier when you learn to laugh it off. Athletics are not, and probably will never be, my strong suit. Nonetheless, this doesn’t stop me from playing (or at the very least, attempting to play) a friendly game of tennis or dodgeball when I see the opportunity arise. Ball is life.
5.Utilize all the free resources you are offered.
You’d be surprised at how many free resources colleges offer. At my campus, these included a gym membership, healthcare, printing services, academic advisors, concerts, football games, and scores of extracurricular activities, just to name a few. You better believe I utilized as many of these as I could. Plus, it became increasingly hard to come up with excuses as to why I couldn’t go to the gym when I had free access to it, 7 days a week. I used the printing lab almost every opportunity I could, met with academic advisors regularly, and attended most UCF sponsored events.
6. Enjoy it while it lasts.
Four years might seem like a long time when you’re young, but trust me when I say that the experience will be over before you know it. Graduating from college is such a liberating feeling, yet at the same time, incredibly bittersweet. I have grown accustomed to calling Orlando my home and I’ll be sad to see it go. But just as I welcomed college with open arms, I will embrace the next chapter of my life with the same warmth.