I thought that I would share 10 things I learned from college since I graduate today! I am officially an alum of Wright State University with a B.S. in biological sciences. As I have mentioned before, I am the first person in my family to graduate from college (and high school), so this is a major victory for me. I start grad school at Wright State at the end of August, so my journey isn’t quite over yet. These aren’t listed in any particular order, but here are the top 10 things I learned from college (and wish I knew before I started):
1. Go to class! This may seem like a no-brainer, but trust me, it can be hard to do. I had a lot of morning classes that I didn’t do very well in because I was too tempted by the snooze button. You (or someone) is paying thousands of dollars for your tuition. Don’t take that for granted.
2. Study! Again, a no-brainer. I found that when I stayed on campus between classes I was more likely to get some studying done. I could not study at home because there were too many distractions for me there. If your campus is anything like mine, then there are a ton of spaces where you could study besides the library. Find a spot that works for you and use it! Also, form study groups with people in your class. Teaching someone else the topic helps you learn the subject more than simply memorizing things.
3. Stay organized. I found that I did best in the semesters when I was the most organized. Buy a planner (there are also apps if you don’t like to write on paper) and write out when all of your assignments are due. I would also add little post it notes for the week(s) before assignments were due to remind me of what was coming up and what chapters I should read to prepare for lecture.
4. Know your grades. In most of my classes we had a set number of assignments, so it was very easy to keep track of my grades. In other classes there was a percentage associated with homework, for example, but it never said how many homework assignments there were. For all of my classes, I would make a sheet that I could fill in the assignment, what I scored, and what percentage it was worth. This helped me to know my grade in the class and showed where I needed to put in more effort.
5. Don’t stretch yourself too thin. This one is easier said than done, especially if you have a hard time saying no. At one point I was working full time, president of the Pre-Vet Society, volunteering in a research lab, had a boyfriend and a social life, taking 16 credits of really difficult classes, blogging, and going through a lot in my personal life. Maybe you can deal with all of that, maybe you can’t. Just know yourself before you get into a situation that you can’t get out of.
6. Make friends. I definitely got better at this after my first two semesters. I was a transfer student and I never got the whole campus-living experience that I felt like everyone else got. At times I felt like everyone around me knew everyone else and I knew no one. If you’re an introvert like me, then you probably have a hard time striking up conversations and making friends. Luckily as a science major most of my classes had labs in which you have to have a partner. That forces you to talk to people. You could also join a club and meet people that have similar interests as you.
7. Talk to your professors and participate in class. I’m not going to lie, I didn’t do this in every class. I mostly participated in classes that I enjoyed, like marine biology and ornithology. And guess what? I got letters of recommendation from the professors that taught the classes that I participated in. Also, there is a fine line between participating in class and being a know it all. Don’t be that person who talks over people and tries to teach the class. It’s annoying to everyone, including the professor, and won’t get you any brownie points.
8. Don’t beat yourself up. My path was different than the typical college student. I had a career for six years before I started college. I took classes while I was in the military, but they were all done at a community college and were pretty easy. My thoughts were that college would be just as easy. It wasn’t. I had to retake several classes and felt like I wasn’t as smart as I thought I was. I beat myself up a lot in the beginning and compared myself to everyone around me. That’s when I finally realized that failure is okay. Being yourself is better than being like everyone else. I may not have a 4.0 GPA, but I do have a lot to offer.
9. Have fun! I’m not saying you should party every night. You should definitely NOT party every night. College is difficult, so it’s nice to unwind every once in a while. Plus most people only have one college experience, so make the most of it.
10. Be open-minded. Don’t be closed-minded and think that you’re going to hate something that you’ve never even tried before. I had to retake ochem because I had a negative attitude about it and I ended up failing (go figure). It was a really difficult class, everyone knows that. When I had to retake it I decided that I was going to give it my all and look at it as a positive challenge, and not a negative one. I ended up loving the subject and did pretty good in the class!
What is the most important thing that you have learned from college?