What I Wish I Knew When I Started College

College is going to be the best 4-7 years of your life, depending on when you hit the point that you accept that you need to move into the real world. College lets you find yourself as a person. This time can be spent doing absolutely whatever you want, and you will definitely see a new variety of diverse people from all different lifestyles. You’ll see the constant partiers who drop out second semester of their freshman year and the alcoholics that make it through with a 4.0. The students and acquaintances that are always “too busy” to hang out with you because they are sleeping or playing video games, along with the ones that are “too busy” to hang out because they are running their three businesses and producing passive income. The drug users who can hold some solid conversations, and the drug dealers with a business ethic unparalleled to Rick Ross’ county prison trafficking. And, of course, the friends that have the same values, morals, and work ethic that you do. These are the ones that will stick by your side even after college, as well as the people that you’ll share some of the best memories with. While you take some time to distinguish these types of people, all of the weird clubs you hesitate to join yet regret not joining later on, and deal the exaggerated workload that everybody complains about, keep a few things in mind:

1. Grades are not everything

Don’t get me wrong; the grades you get coming out of college will affect your career. You can’t enter the real world and expect to be making a $65,000 starting salary with a 2.2 gpa unless your father is an executive vice president of a company like Verizon. Don’t worry, you will see that happen to a few people that you know and wonder how the hell corporate America functions. But the truth of the matter is that the business and networking skills you create will be much more relevant for your career and life after college. You will meet people in and out of your classes, but getting decent grades and staying on track with courses is the bare minimum you should be doing as a college student. Whenever graduation comes around, there are people who can only talk about going to their classes, receiving passing grades, and getting above a 3.5. This does little to help them have a conversation with a recruiter to get the job that they want. Once you have your classwork done for the day or week, keep a list of things you want to do at your college, in the area, and before you finish college. Go compete in a business or startup competition that has a time limit, drive to the nearest lake and go kayaking, and go try out at the first Quidditch practice for the hell of it. Rush a fraternity or sorority to see if it’s a culture that you want to fit into. Have conversations with your teachers about their careers to get a feel for what you may want to do in the future, and go to office hours to build rapport. It goes a long way.

2. Make Time for Yourself

One thing that you will miss about college once you leave is the fact that there is always something going on. In college, you can walk down to a field and jump in an ultimate frisbee game, you can jump in the car with friends for a long weekend at the beach, and you can go use a 3D printer to make a koozie for your beer the next weekend. But this doesn’t mean that you always have to be doing something, especially with other people. College is a way to find yourself and what you actually value as a person. It gives you the time to love yourself and become confident with who you are, ultimately developing a personality that will lead you to who you want to be. Whether you take time out in the morning to read, go to church, go for long walks, or meditate, make sure you figure out your core values that guide your decisions.

3. Don’t waste your money on “stuff”

I’m not saying be cheap, or don’t spend any of your money, I’m just saying to spend it on the right things. You’re going to be in college for 4 – 5 years depending on your major, that’s a lot of time to buy “stuff” and accumulate things. It’s also a lot of time to DO stuff. Take it from me, I had enough clothes for a small family of boys, and enough random belongings to stock a shelf in a thrift store. When I graduated, I was looking for ways to not bring it with me wherever I was moving to. I envied my friends that had less stuff and could pack easily and get out. What you can take with you when you leave, are your memories. Four years is a long time to meet people and do things that you will never do again. Now, I hate swiping my card to buy a pair of shoes that cost $20, but I’ll gladly spend $75 at a Brazilian steakhouse because it’s a new experience. I wish I could’ve had someone tell me this when I was a freshman, I would’ve bought less, and done more.

4. No One Cares, and Neither Should You!

Moving into my fourth month out of school – still fresh, I know- not one person has asked me: How much can you drink? How fast do you shotgun? How many girls have you slept with? I don’t trouble myself much with what other people think, but I did find myself trying to impress people at times. Drinking fast to look cool, or getting with girls just to say I did. Truth is, no one really cares, they just want something to talk about. Don’t give people something to talk about, instead do things that you’re proud to talk about. Also, by all means, sleep with who you want, and drink what you want, just don’t do it for the wrong reasons.

Along with this, these 4-5 years are a great time period to realize that you are the only person that can truly judge yourself. Take a look at some of the most successful people in the world like Tim Cook, Elon Musk, Bill Gates, Warren Buffett, Michael Jordan, and the list goes on and on. These people didn’t get to the success level that they’re at by taking criticism in a negative way. When people looked at them playing basketball, losing money in the stock market, or failing at business after business, they didn’t say to themselves “eh, I can’t do this. Let me stop practicing and go join the status quo.” The reason for that is 95% of other people’s opinions do not affect your life in any way unless you let it. Once you realize that people have different opinions and that this shouldn’t change your core values and beliefs, the sooner you’ll accept the goals you have, and the faster they will get accomplished.

5. Start Creating Life Habits

College is the best time to start creating a lifestyle that you will want to stick to in your twenties, thirties, and beyond. Yes, you will see people going out every night and never sticking to a routine schedule. Hell, you’ll join the mix for a few weeks from here to there, get off a routine, stay up late, then spend a week getting up at 4am. But make sure you come up with habits such as working out every morning or afternoon at least 4 days a week, preparing healthy meals, learning a skill and practicing at daily intervals, or studying at specific times. This not only teaches you how to have a work/play balance, but it allows you to get things done while other people waste time. These habits will eventually reflect who you are as a person, and you will gain a lot more satisfaction out of developing fun skills than drinking and smoking daily.

6. Treat Monday-Friday as a Productive Period

Don’t turn Wednesday through Sunday into your weekends. The people who stick to a routine and get shit done Monday-Friday have a lot more fun on the weekends, because they aren’t worrying about all the items they didn’t finish on their to do list for the week. This allows you to stay caught up, as well as create those habits and routines. Working out from 5-7pm on a Wednesday and then doing an hour of homework until 830pm goes a long way compared to going for drinks at 5pm that day. Not to say don’t ever switch that up, but the former is ten times more beneficial than the latter.

In conclusion:

Do you, and make these next four years a time to understand your true interests, internal values, meaning of true friendship, and your true passions. Remember, many will want to be with you when you reach the top, but there are few and far between that are willing to collectively get there with you.

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