5 Things I Wish I Knew When I Started College

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?



    1. Stefanie Darryl Segovia says:

      i wish i knew that not all colleges are the same, that there will be unique professors who will just annoy you to the end. oh that even if you are paying top dollar for an expensive education, or if youre a freeloader of the government in a measly community college, if you treat college crap, it will be crap.

      1. kim says:

        "freeloader of the government in a measly community college."

        That is probably the most ignorant and condescending statement I have ever heard. So if someone can't afford to go to a university or to pay for college , their a free loader? I really don't know who you think you are to even say things like that, but getting fiancial aid does not make me or anyone else a free loader. Community colleges aren't "measly" all of my professors have ph.Ds and are just as educated as a professor in a university. And students who work hard in community colleges can be just as sucessful as a student who went to a university.

        I don't know what college you went to, but by your ignorant statements, you don't seem very smart.

      2. ajv says:

        "their" should be "they're"

        just sayin…

      3. Pls n thx says:

        Well, the first letter of every sentence is always capitalized and we put periods at the ends of our sentences. Also, your last sentence fragment should have a 'g' at the end or an apostrope to signify you understand the difference between slang and proper English.

        "Just saying."

        Great article, thank you so much! And Kim, you are 100 percent correct! I transferred from a community college, worked hard all four years of my college career and am now graduating at the top of my class with a bachelor in arts degree. Your level of college success is not based on what college/university you attend, but how hard you work, how much you want it, and your ability to turn any situation into an opportunity to build a good future for yourself.:)

      4. Dr. K says:

        Where did you find a college that offers a major in "Snob"? How did you get them to let you skip English grammar and spelling on the entry exam?

        Dr. K

      5. Tropiholic says:

        It must be awful to be you. I doubt you'll succeed anywhere with that attitude.

    2. adreamer00 says:

      thanks for the advice – i really need it! im going through that stage in my life trying to decide what courses to take and where i want to end up. .

    3. […] Read the rest of this post on College Candy… […]

    4. Al says:

      My advice is to have fun. Not just the parties etc, but have fun with school. Take some courses that have nothing to do with your major (my favorite courses were an English lit seminar that sounded weird and the Spanish course I took to try and impress the cute Costa Rican girl I met). Go abroad for a semester if you can. Do service projects over Spring Break. In general, do things that you may never have the opportunity to do again. I agree with the article that college is not a training course for your future career (mostly, maybe engineering is different). Learn the major but don’t be afraid to experiment (academically).

    5. Britt says:

      I think she was just playing around…. but anyway , I am going to take this advice!!

    6. […] 5 Things I Wish I Knew When I Started College : College Candy. […]

    7. […] Five things you learn in college that would have been useful to know at the beginning. […]

    8. Jennifer Low says:

      I think that what the last poster was trying to say is that whether or not your college is super-competitive, if you treat your opportunity for education AS crap, then it WILL be crap. Where you go to school doesn't matter as much as whether you take it seriously. (And I agree with this point.) If you party all the time, or simply spend most of your time in school on your job to earn money for a better car, you won't get much out of your education. (I agree with that, too.) The point of the BLOGGER is also good: don't just consider a college education as job training. Try to give yourself the opportunity to learn–to challenge yourself to encounter unfamiliar ideas and unfamiliar ways of thinking, unfamiliar ways of approaching problem-solving. If you're in math, study English. If you're in English, study math. If you're in the humanities, take a business course. And the reverse. Don't stay with what's comfortable. Two of the best things you can gain from education are flexibility and the ability to think outside of the box. But you only can develop these abilities if you choose to challenge yourself in college.

      1. Jennifer Low says:

        Or out of it.

    9. Rebecca says:

      I wish I had known more about student loans. Where I went to school, student loans were freely available and interest on them did not become due until after you graduated. That is an insanely good opportunity, especially if you have no need for a loan. If I had know, I would have taken out as much as possible in loans and invested them all in zero-risk CD accounts and paid them all back immediately after graduation, getting to pocket all that interest from 4 years. If only I had known…

    10. Rebecca says:

      My Masters degree offered the option of completing a thesis OR taking a comprehensive exam. I took the comp exam because it was easier, but wish I would have written a thesis, because acceptance to a PhD program is easier if you've been published. I'd pass info that along to others.

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