5 Things I Wish I Knew When I Was A Freshman In College

There’s always wisdom in wit, and that’s why I love Oscar Wilde. In case you can’t decipher Wilde’s meaning, he’s pointing out the phenomenon of how most people overestimate their knowledge when they’re young. With age comes experience… and usually a bit of humility.

As a 30-year-old undergrad, I’ve found that it’s much easier this time. Mainly, I attribute my belated success on what I’ve learned since I’ve been away. Trust me, most of what I know comes from trial-and-error. If I can save you some of the pain, the tears, and the humiliation, allow me to pass along some lessons I wish I’d known the first time around.

1. There is a hidden curriculum

Don’t worry, it’s not as nefarious as it sounds. No, no need to start making tinfoil hats; the hidden curriculum is actually something designed for your benefit. Colleges and universities are not only trying to educate you with textbooks and tests, they’re also trying to get you to get along better with your peers, find solutions to societal problems, and develop skills in leadership, scholarship, life-long learning, and ideation.

Don’t fight it. Take part in all elements of your education. Join clubs, start organizations, write papers and even books…. The more you participate, the more you’ll get from the college experience.

2. There are millions of dollars worth of resources available to you

There’s many cool, useful, productive activities on campus for you to take part in, and I’m not just talking about keggers. College is a time of great change for most of us and our institutions know that, which is why they have developed resources to help young people deal with new and strange obstacles. For instance, many mental health issues begin to present themselves most prominently during the age ranges of traditional college students. This is why colleges and universities have mental health professionals on staff that often offer free counseling, advising, diagnostic testing, and even medical attention.

3. Employers don’t want another follower, they want a leader

While it’s great—and I certainly encourage you to become involved in student organizations in any capacity—employers aren’t usually just looking for lemmings in pinstriped suits. Being an officer in an established organization is a bit better than just being one of the flock, but what employers really want is someone that creates something from nothing. They need someone that can take charge and do something productive—which is why so many young people are getting ahead in the business world because of their blogging efforts.

4. Your professors are people, too

Sometimes your professors are going to teach opinions as facts—it’s just human nature. Take it in stride. You might agree with the professor, or you might want to slug him for the mere suggestion. The point is that sometimes in life we must submit to whims of someone in a position of authority. Whatever you do, don’t let one jerk of a professor ruin your college experience. It sounds stupid, but I cannot tell you how many times I’ve heard something along the lines of, what a stupid twit of teacher; I’ll show him, I’ll drop out! That only hurts you; trust me, they won’t care.

5. Enjoy the ride!

Just like any experience, your time in college will have it’s ups and downs. Just remember when going through a particularly difficult period that the sun is just on the other side of that tunnel. Although more and more people are going to college these days, there are still many that won’t have the opportunity. Savor the stimulating conversations, the laughs with friends during late night cram sessions, and the feeling of success when you see that ‘A’ on your transcript.

College isn’t just an education, it’s an experience. Make yours a good one. Find your interests and pursue them.

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