College Then and Now: What I’ve Learned Since Freshman Year

I am twenty-two years old. In November, I am turning twenty-three. I graduated high school almost five years ago. By my calculations (and yes, I suck at math, but I can’t be that bad) I should’ve graduated about four months ago. Roughly. Give or take a couple of weeks or so. Okay, the point is, I’m wicked behind.
I’m sure you may be wondering what kind of time-warp I fell into that I didn’t graduate four months ago. Or maybe you’re not. The truth is, I did what a lot of people do—I got burnt out. First of all, I picked a ridiculous career: Computer Engineering. Not to say that the career itself is ridiculous, it was just a bad choice for me. Three semesters and only two true Engineering classes later, I was burnt out. And hard up for cash. I ended up withdrawing from classes my fourth semester in school. I was just going to take a semester off, work hard enough to save up the money and go back later in the fall. Yeah, right. That “semester off” turned into three years!
I’m almost twenty-three and starting over. And so I present, the top differences in College: Then and Now:
As a freshman four years ago, I couldn’t legally drink. Or smoke. Or do much of anything except hole up in my dorm room doing homework. Now? I am free to drink as I please. And smoke. But my inclination to do both has significantly lessened. What is it about forbidden things being so much damn cooler??
As a freshman four years ago, I was living on campus. Which got old. Quick. Especially because we were forced to buy into the meal plan to eat at the crappy caf. Definitely not missing the weird mystery pasta they had every Thursday.
As a freshman four years ago, I knew nothing of the ways of the Off-Campus Bookstore and half.com. Though I haven’t thoroughly investigated half.com yet (tip from an alumni) I do know that rather than spend $400+ to purchase books from the university’s bookstore, I can save at least $200 by driving a mile or so off campus. And that’s two hundred that I can spend on new clothes. Which makes me a happy student. And a happy student is a productive student.
As a freshman four years ago, I was not socially active at all. Now I have friends all over the place, from different groups on campus, to alumni that can offer priceless bits of wisdom.
As a freshman four years ago, I was not privy to time management skills. Which meant I did my homework either the day before it was due or the day of, depending on class time. (Tip: This does not work for your 8 am hell classes. Learn from my past mistakes, as I have.)
As a freshman four years ago, I had no idea how important it was to work hard. True, in the time I took off I learned what I really wanted to do with my life. Otherwise I’d still be slogging through crazy Engineering courses that made my head feel like it was going to explode. But still, if I’d known then what I know now, I would’ve tried a lot harder.
Got any good tips for some young scholars out there? Let me know.
[photo from farm3.static.flickr.com]

Gossip Girl Recap — Lunch: The Meal Before Dating
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