10 Things College Taught Me Outside Of The Classroom

For my last Her Campus Barnard article ever, I wanted to give back to the place that shaped me and the people who influenced me in the past 4 years. I still have a lot of growing up to do (literally I'm still a child 99% of the time), but I thought I'd share the bits of wisdom I gleamed about life, love, laundry, drinking, discovering passions, and discovering myself through college. I <3 you, HCB. Thnx 4 the mmrs.

1.    It’s more important to have one or two friends who know and love everything about you than it is to have a large group of friends. I wasted a lot of high school worried about getting in with the right “crowd” of people. I didn’t focus enough on the individuals in my life. In college, I joined a sorority because I feared not having a base group to socialize with and feel a part of. I may not have joined for the best reasons, but it was through that sorority that I found the friends I know will always love me no matter how bitchy I act during that certain week of the month. They’ll bitch right back at me and then we can order pizza and watch a rom-com.

2.    It’s okay not to stay best friends with the people you met during NSOP week. Realistically, not all friendships are meant to last forever. For those of us who grew up in small towns, we’ve held on to every friendship we made from kindergarten to senior year. But in college, we learn to stick with the friends who make us happy and understand us. We keep them around for the right reasons and we’re healthier because of it.

3.    As long as your underwear is clean, nobody will notice if you wear clothes directly from the dirty pile. People probably won’t notice whether or not your underwear is clean either, but please wear clean undies for your own sanity (and sanitation). This means you only have to do laundry when you’ve worn your last pair of underwear, so make sure to overload on the underies and pack everything else lightly at the start of the year.

4.    There is a prime level of drunkenness that you should always strive to achieve on nights out. Hitting this level sends you into a happy oasis in which everything becomes more fun, but you’re also keeping it classy and coherent. 

5.    Cheap alcohol brings on the worst hangovers. I know that $7 bottle of Yellowtail or $10 Nikolai can be tempting for broke youngsters like ourselves, but throw in the extra $5 for a better quality booze and save the money later by going for one slice of Koronets instead of two. Your head and stomach will thank you.

6.    Take advantage of college diversity. There’s no status quo here, so you can hang out with people very different from you and find yourself really enjoying their company. I met some of my best friends in random college seminars because I was interested in what they had to say. They made me question my perspectives on pretty much everything and challenged me intellectually. They’re also just really cool people. You won’t get along with everyone, but some of the connections you make might surprise you.

7.    People can change, but you can’t force someone to change in the same way you do. College brings on a lot of heartbreak because it’s a time in our lives when we question everything, learn more about ourselves, and constantly evolve to fit our new desires, passions, or needs. This can make dating very complicated. The guy you fell in love with freshman year might not be the same by senior year. Or he might be exactly the same but no longer right for you. Timing is everything with college relationships. The dating game can be very exciting or very depressing. Accept it for what it is and you’ll learn to grow from it.

8.    Parents are our lifeline. When we find ourselves in the competitive and confusing tunnel of college, a phone call to mom or dad can help us see the light. Of course, everyone has a different parental situation and we don’t all have physical or emotional access to our parents. But it’s important to have someone who can empathize with college life yet remain distant from it. We need to be reminded that life is so much bigger than life right now.

9.    It is possible to spend very little money on a very large sum of food. You learn to give up on the idea of eating healthy in college because a 10-pack of ramen or Easy Mac costs about the same as a container of blueberries. A huge highlight of college is the free gym. Go hard on the junk food as well as the gym and your bod and wallet will both approve.

10.  Being smart is so much more fulfilling than being successful. In the beginning, we work our butts off because we need a certain GPA in order to achieve a certain career that will define our success and future happiness. This is all good and well, but don’t let your path to success give you tunnel vision. Appreciate everything college has to offer by stirring relevant and interesting conversations in your classes as well as your life outside of school. Apply your senior thesis or research project to your every day life. You’ll find yourself enjoying the academic process as well as gaining valuable insight on your relationships, the greater world, and your place within it. Leaving college with a job is great. Leaving college with confidence, passion, life-long friendships, and intellect makes you a better and stronger person than you were before.