College is a terrifyingly alluring experience that I will never forget. The knowledge that you learn is something that actually applies to the real world! Completely unrelated topics somehow turn out to be unintentionally comparable. Spanish will have in common something with linguistics, and sociology will apply to your business courses. Even art classes will help you at some point in your future. There are many things I wish someone had told me to make my experiences easier and less complicated, however. I’m about to list them for you and give advice along the way.
1.) Do not listen to ‘ratemyprofessors’ to decide what class or section to take. Not always, but many times, these reviews are entirely too negative or positive to be accurate. Let me explain. One of my Iranian born professors who taught Economics was intentionally black-balled by a group of students who did not participate or study in class. I’m not saying these students were the quiet ones who never spoke (because that would be me). These were students who did not want to learn and were found (by other students and said professor) saying and I quote, “I will get her back on ‘ratemyprofessors’ for giving me a bad grade on the test”. Yes. Literally happened. They blamed her ethnicity and accent (which actually was easily understandable) on their failure. Racial slurs included. Another professor who jabbered on about his ex-girlfriend most of the semester had a great rating. I memorized the textbook that semester because our grades were determined by two tests entirely. That was honestly the worst class I ever took.
Rather, go to classes the first few days and drop a class if you decide you clash with the professor or dislike the course. Often you will get a feel for if a class is a good fit the first few days. If this means you sign up for six classes instead of four, so be it. You can drop two and have choices!
2.) Clubs are not an end all be all. I was told in high school to join clubs in order to get into college easier. I was told that colleges like to see plenty of extracurriculars. THIS IS FALSE. Even in college. Having extracurriculars does not make in any easier to place into a college or into a job after college. I worked part time through high school and college. Choosing money to fund my college tuition and my life after college was the best decision I made. Colleges just want to see a work ethic. So volunteer, attend paint classes, work part time, mow your neighbors lawn, etc. It won’t matter! Just put in effort in some way. Make yourself outshine the competition however you want. No school spirit needed.
3.) Do not get cocky. Some classes may seem like repeats of high school or you may think that classes will be easy. This is a common sense statement for the most part. However, just a reminder: If you get cocky and do not study you will likely fail or get a passing (but still sucky) score. Seriously. Don’t do it. Study. Even if a question is 2+2. These professors may expect 5 instead of 4. (Not really but you get my point).
4.) Your advisors may not always…be the best. At my university, we had to have academic counseling to pick our next semester classes for the first two years. My advisor, while well wishing, did not understand what was a great system of classes for me. I was a commuter and was honestly looking usually for classes that were back to back so I could go home or go to work straight after classes that day. He did not quite understand this. He also had a tendency to not answer emails even after I sent three in a row because he was working on his own writing and was very busy. When I finally got a meeting time scheduled, he often talked to me for fifteen minutes and had me more confused than when I came in. However, I worked out my own path towards graduation and made it out of school on time. You do not have to follow the ‘regular course’ that other students in your major follow. You can take things out of order and you can choose your own classes. Study your degree audit (or whatever paperwork has your total credits and what other credits are needed to be taken). You can usually select classes based on times, academic department, or even course load. Talk to any professor at your school, and I can guarantee you they will be able to show you how to do this if your advisor does not show you. Most professors are literate in almost every hoop that students have to jump through. Even fellow students will help you if you ask.
5.) Don’t party, or at least too much. I know I sound like a parent, but I’m going to state this plainly. I’m not saying this for ethical reasons. I’m saying this from experience with my college friends (not necessarily personal experience because well I don’t like parties or alcohol). Partying every once in a while is perfectly fine. For the love of God though, don’t spend every weekend or every few days partying it up. You will become stressed out if you party too much while holding down your college load. You will forget to do assignments, online quizzes, or group projects at some point. Especially if you have a job on top of school and your social life. On this topic don’t join to many groups. One or two is awesome and will help you meet friends or build networks. Too much stimulation to your mind will make it explode, however. Manage your time well and do not strain yourself too far.
6.) Network, network, network. I can’t say this enough. As you go through college, try to network with peers or professionals. This is the best way to break into any industry you wish to enter upon graduation. It is never too soon to begin. Many colleges have seminars and meetings on how best to network in general and in your major’s field in particular. ATTEND THESE if you are able to.
These are only a few things I wish someone had told me. Overall, don’t take college too seriously. You have four years to accomplish everything. As much as it may not seem like enough time, it will be. Mostly just remember: Have fun!