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5 Things I Wish I Knew Before College

Preparing for my final year as an undergraduate has been very exciting, but also a tad bit stressful. The past three years have been nothing short of an amazing ride, but I wouldn’t be truthful if I didn’t admit that there were a lot of bumps in the road… A LOT.  These recollections, along with the Snapchat memories feature, have brought me to write this article.

Before I dive in head first to a few of the things I wish I knew before college, I should give you all a little background on my university to better understand why this list might be spot on, missing a few, or just not comparing with your personal college experience at all. 

I attend Lynn University in Boca Raton, Fla. It is a private university with less than 3,000 undergraduates, clearly deeming it as a small school. More key facts about Lynn are that it is an international school and has one of the largest international students’ populations in America! Finally, for those whom are possibly confused as to why there is not much about parties or frat houses, Lynn does have Greek life but does not have any Greek housing on or off campus. Being that my school is in South Florida it is more of a club and bar hopping scene rather than your typical house parties. Also, my first roommate was my best friend from high school, therefore I have never been in that “Who’s going to be my roommate?!” situation that everyone else has gone through. 

Now that we have cleared all of that up let’s jump into the 5 Things I Wish I Knew Before College: 

DON’T TAKE 8 A.M.’S AND DON’T SKIP (A LOT)** 

Before college I would have full-heartedly claimed to be a morning person. In high school I remember waking up early to workout with my dad then going to school at 7:30 a.m.   

While creating my first semester schedule the summer of 2016, I distinctly remember my dad and others telling me that 8 a.m.’s in college were not the same as going to school at 7:30 a.m. before, and that starting at 9 or 10 is much better. Keeping in mind how much of a “morning person” I was at the time, I thought how much different could an 8 a.m. truly be? 

From me being the hard headed person I am, I suffered many missed absences, apology e-mails to professors, falling asleep in class, and even worse… bad hair and outfit days because I would have to drag myself out of bed with little time to spare. 

You must consider how much homework you will have the nights before (because all-nighters are a real thing), if you are going out a lot or even working late, and other little things that can add up to you not wanting to get up that early. Now if you can do this with no problem, go for it! 

As for skipping, I do not promote this at all BUT there will be days where you are sick, maybe need some time to breathe, or you just down right do not want to go. In this case I have learned to plan accordingly and give myself at least 2 guilty free days of missing class as a mental note. I do strongly advise that before skipping just because, ALWAYS check your syllabus or ask a friend what you have missed.  

NOT EVERYONE IS YOUR FRIEND 

Unfortunately, this is one of those obvious ones that can still blindside you.  

College is a time that will truly test you, due to you being thrown into a brand-new environment with brand new people. With new people comes different backgrounds and a constant reminder that not everyone looks, dresses, and most importantly thinks the same. Don’t get me wrong, it is very cool to be around people that you haven’t grown up with, but adapting can still be challenge.  

Personally, I have always had a lot of friends, so I came into college imagining no change in that method, which can work for many people, but my experience was a little bit different. My freshman year, I quickly learned that not everyone is your “friend,” just because they do a few nice things. 

In my three years of school I was put in multiple situations where I acted unlike myself and let manipulation, lies, and rumors get to me. I let my environment control my actions and I was not true to myself because of blindly trusting those who were just simply not worthy. 

Remember, sometimes people should just remain your acquaintances and to avoid certain situations the easiest way to tell if someone is a good friend is to pay attention to how they talk about people closest to them. There are certain red flags that will come up once you remind yourself of what your personal moral compass is and from there you should be able to weed the bad ones out (hopefully). 

FRESHMAN 15 IS A THING 

This is a major one in my opinion because I literally thought it was a myth. For some people I know the Freshman 15 was either nonexistent or was put on in the best places, but for me it went straight to my gut and my face. 

Being away from my mother’s home cooking and not having an eating schedule was something that did not sit well with my body at all. It took me not being able to fit into my clothes as before to realize that I put on a couple of pounds. From eating freely in a 24/7 dining common (thanks Lynn), to overloads of junk food, and alcohol, your girl NEEDED the gym and a salad.  

Be mindful of your intake, because although a fast food, pizza, and beer diet might sound like the college experience, being mindful that your health is more important will help you avoid the extra pounds. 

DO NOT COMPARE YOURSELF TO OTHERS 

This is so important for college students to consider because it is super easy to get yourself down by looking at the next person, which goes far beyond appearance in my opinion.  

For me this applied to when I would scroll on LinkedIn or Instagram and saw people that were my same age getting incredible opportunities and wondering what I was doing wrong or why I was not getting those same opportunities.   

Not everyone is on the same timeline and therefore we should not compare ourselves to others. You have to work hard for what you want and apply for every position or internship that you can find. You never know where an experience can lead you by just putting yourself out there. 

    MAKE CONNECTIONS AND GET INVOLVED

    If moving around a lot throughout my childhood has taught me anything, it would be to meet new people and be open-minded. My parents encouraged the idea that I would later find out is called networking for as long as I can remember. You never know who will get you into the doors that you need for career paths and other big factors in life. Always be personable and able to connect with someone because aside from personal gain, people’s life experiences can teach you so much that you would never even think about. These bits of information can mold you into a leader or whatever you want to be in any aspect which is simply amazing. 

    Getting involved at your school is important because you will be able to leave an imprint on the place that was basically your home for however many years. Helping your community and school through clubs and organizations such as Greek Life, interning or working can help you not only find friends for life but also ties back into networking and possibly finding your future job because of it. It’s such a great feeling to know that you helped your fellow students or even school in any kind of way.

    Remember that this was not only a very condensed list, but all based off of my personal experiences. Maybe yours are different but hopefully some of these can help or even take you down memory lane while looking back on your personal self-growth.  

    Chelbie Olivier-Smith is a staff writer for the Her Campus at Lynn University. She is a senior studying Multimedia Journalism with a passion for telling stories and connecting with others. Louisiana born, Olivier-Smith has had to learn how to adapt and make new connections, which have in turn helped guide her to a passion for journalism. She has high hopes of one day becoming a television talk show host. While she waits for her big break to follow in Oprah, her role model’s footsteps, Olivier-Smith spends most of her time hanging out with friends, staying up to date with celebrities through social media, and working at Fabletics. She is thrilled to be studying in Italy for the fall semester and is anticipated to graduate in Spring 2020 with a B.A. in Multimedia Journalism.
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