Five Things That Actually Matter In College

Everywhere. There is such an overwhelming abundance of distractions surrounding a college student. How can someone possibly decide what really matters about these four years when they're still trying to figure out how much water is needed to prevent their microwavable mac 'n cheese from catching on fire?  Here are the five things that really matter in college. 

Number Five: Your Surroundings

You’re finally free to walk out the door at whatever time you want. So don’t just sit in your dorm room on Netflix all day, embrace your freedom and go cross some things off your bucket list! There is more to college than tailgates and frat parties. So don’t be so basic, this isn’t high school anymore. Take a road trip, go eat at that bizarre looking restaurant with the super unattractive decor that your roommate swears is the best place in town. Go to a poetry club or a comedy club, honestly, go to any and every club event. Chances are your friends have different hobbies that they love, and they would be more than happy for you to go to their club’s events, so go. You already know what going out after the game feels like. You’ve experienced this hundreds of times throughout high school. You owe it to yourself to give yourself as many new experiences as possible. You’ll be more well rounded for it too. Take out the head phones, put down the book, stop editing your essay for the tenth time and go experience something more than what you’ve known for almost your entire life!

Number Four: Grades

With that said, be sure to pick that book right back up as soon as you get home. Education, that’s why everyone is here, so don’t throw that anyway for any type of distraction; don’t just space out in class and get by. That too is an experience, learn everything that you can. Apply it to your life and let your education help you grow as a person. Getting good grades will always be an essential part of achieving your degree, but what are all of those flash cards worth if all you can do is recite them? Be open minded, and give your professors’ new ideas a chance. This is not to say that you should throw away your roots or ever compromise your beliefs. However, if you are capable of separating your personal defenses and allow yourself to embrace the mindset of questioning new ideas and deciding on their truth for yourself, you will find that maybe the price of your text book was actually worth it. 

Number Three: Relationships 

A bad relationship in college could end up being the worst distraction of them all. It’s easy to get caught up in the guy or girl who is always out and having fun and experiencing college in the “I’m Schmacked” endorsed sort of way. They’re fun, they’re exciting, they even always seem happy… they remind you of your carefree high school days. Well, they also probably aren’t going to get their degree and they certainly aren’t benefiting you in any sort of genuine or permanent way. So if you're going to have any sort of relationship with someone, have it with the person who makes you want to be better. Be with someone who doesn’t get annoyed, (or at least doesn’t show it) when you barge into their room twice a week, freaking out about how your philosophy class just wrecked your world. Be with someone who is focused and who understands that you need to be focused too, someone who wants to have meaningful conversations with you and who actually makes you feel like you might be somewhat of an adult now.

Number Two: Friends

More than ever, who your friends are matters. If all you can talk about with your best friend is what Halloween costume is going to be the most flattering in your Instagram posts, then you probably aren’t doing so hot in this category. Friends of substance, friends of different backgrounds and view points, friends who are encouraging and loyal - these are the ones that matter. After all, these may be the friends you keep for the rest of your life and if you aren’t selective in the qualities you want in your friendships, you’re likely to be weighing yourself down. Be friends with the person who is going to bring you your third Starbucks at 8 p.m. on finals week when all you want to do is pass out. Be friends with the person who has no idea why you still use your weird hometown lingo, and who is often embarrassed by your “accent,” but eventually subconsciously starts using it themselves anyways. Be friends with the person who you would have never had the chance to meet in your hometown and who constantly amaze and inspire you with their different perspectives. Friends like this, they matter and they will be there for you when you are struggling with an assignment, when you just need a break full of reality TV and food that probably is to blame for most students' “Freshmen Fifteen,” or when you don’t get that job you wanted, when you’re doubting yourself and when you simply just can’t bare the thought of another trip on the light rail alone. These friends see you for your best and stay with you through your worst, they are more than just a convenient party partner and they are certainly so much more valuable. 


Number One: Where you came from

So here you are, studying what you’re passionate about with people you care about and endless opportunities surrounding you. Your days are sunny and every morning you walk to class surrounded by palm trees. Remember that not everyone has this; your parents are still going to work everyday, your younger sibling is still at home and now has no one to share the chores with, your best friends who are still in high school are still facing the struggle of 7 a.m. classes and all of that pointless drama. Your favorite teacher is still stuck in that bland classroom for six hours a day and here you are, living in a world that you could have only dreamed about, and probably did while you were spacing off in study hall your senior year. So don’t forget where you came from and when you return don’t forget to share all that you have learned while you we’re away from home.