Since it’s that time of year, the time for choosing colleges (and for some, leaving college) Jezebel has decided to depart some wisdom on all the high school senior hopefuls out here, asking them to really think about what they want out of there college experience, about why they’re choosing the schools they’re choosing, and the effects those choices will have on their college careers.
Well, their great advice has inspired me to give a little advice of my own. Less about choosing a college, and more about the things you should remember once you get there, about how to bridge that gap between college and the real world, and how to make the most of your opportunities while you still have them.
I mean it’s not all boys, beer, and parties (even though those are important too), so here are a few things I wish I knew when I was a mere freshman.
1. You’ll change your major at least once. Everyone always told me this, but I would just shake my head at them and laugh. Not me, I knew what I wanted to major in. I loved to read and to write. I was going to be an English major. But even I eventually had a moment of doubt. The entire second semester of my freshman year into the summer before my sophomore I was convinced I would be changing my major to information systems. That seemed like a far more practical choice with better options for post-grad jobs. Granted I eventually realized I was not made to be an information systems major and found my way back to English (and later, Philosophy) but I was so concerned with trying to pick a major that I didn’t even realize that…
2. What you get your degree in may not necessarily be the field you work in. It’s the truth. Your major does not necessarily have to dictate what you do with your life so much as it explains what you enjoy and what skill sets you will have post graduation. Granted, pre-med students more often than not will probably go on to become doctors and psychology majors will probably continue their research in graduate schools, but history majors can become politicians or writers or lawyers. I mean, philosophy majors don’t necessarily become…philosophers, right? No, trust me, they don’t.
3. The humanities are actually pretty applicable to real life. The humanities (English, Philosophy, History) tend to get a bad reputation these days. Because there’s no set post-college career path humanities majors are accused of being lazy, impractical, and unwilling to grow up. Sure, we spend our time reading and discussing and analyzing and researching about things that have already happened, things that have only happened in books, and thinks that will never happen, but all that reading and discussing, all those skills we develop actually come in handy later on in life. It took me a while, but eventually I learned how to spin the skills of an English and Philosophy major to work for just about any job. I mean, what job description these days doesn’t ask for excellent analytical skills, great communication skills, and the ability to work well with others, right?
4. Your advisor can help you. This one may seem like a no brainer, but not nearly enough people utilize their college advisors, and I certainly didn’t during my first few years. These people are there to do more than tell you what classes you need to take in order to graduate on time. They’re there to help you figure out what you want to do with your life. Have something in mind? Ask for their opinions? If they can’t help you, they’ll probably be able to tell you who can, and tell you what you need to do to make it happen. They have connections, and they want to use them to help you, so let them.
5. Get as many internships as possible. The best way to determine whether or not a certain job is right for you is to do that job, and an internship is the perfect way to try it out while you’re still in college. Internships are great because they give you some real life experience, allow you to put all those skills (directly related or not) to good use, and sometimes (if you’re lucky enough to intern for CollegeCandy) they’re actually a lot of fun. Internships allow you to further develop your skills, build up your resume, and test drive a few post-grad options. So do one, do four, do forty, and make the most of all the options available to you as a college girl.
OK, now it’s your turn: Looking back on your college experience, what are some things you wish you knew way back when?