What I Learned My Junior Year of College that Every Student Should Know

With the COVID-19 pandemic still in full swing, college this semester certainly looked different. No in-person classes, no lunch dates in the dining hall, and no parties to attend. Campus was much more quiet, and at times, felt like a ghost town.

Although unique to others, this semester taught me a lot about college and life in general, pandemic or no pandemic. I WISH I knew these things coming into my freshman year, but I guess thats what college is: learning new things as you go along. 

Here’s what I learned during the first semester of my junior year, with some advice on what to know about college. 

Grades don’t really matter

Freshman and sophomore year, I cared so much about my grades. For every single class, even if it was just a general education course unrelated to my major, I was determined to get an A. 

However, that was a lot of pressure I was placing on myself, for no reason at all. 

It took me up until my junior year to realize this, but grades don’t matter! Yes, you should still try in the classes that matter to you, but don’t stress yourself out about trying to maintain that 4.0. When it comes down to it, employers don’t care about your GPA– they care about how you spent your time in college and what you accomplished outside the classroom. 

Additionally, if this pandemic taught me one thing, its that you should be taking care of yourself. Eating healthy, sleeping well, exercising often, and getting some type of social interaction are more important than grades in the long run. 

Also, if you’re too concerned about your grades you could be missing out on some pretty memorable experiences! 

Internships are so important 

Having an internship during your college career is so, so important. It allows you to gain real experience and get a foot in the door for the industry you hope to go into. It’s also looks super impressive! 

Try getting an internship during your junior or senior year, but feel free to apply to some during freshman and sophomore year too! It’s never too early to start developing your career. 

(If you don’t know where to start, I recommend looking on LinkedIn for some opportunities. And if you haven’t made a LinkedIn yet… you should get on that).

Net working is key 

In my search for internships over this past semester, I’ve found that it really is about who you know in the industry. One connection could make a huge difference when you’re first starting out. 

Did you attend a career fair recently or your college’s alumni panel? Great! Now connect with those people (try LinkedIn, again) and message them. You don’t necessarily have to ask for a job referral or letter or recommendation– it could be something as simple as asking them for advice and how they got their start in the industry. 

Growing your network is crucial because you never know who could help you out later on down the road! 

Have more fun with your friends 

As a junior, I’ve learned that college goes by too fast. It feels like my freshman year was yesterday, and I can’t believe that I only have a year and a half left at school. 

I realized this year that my fondest memories come from spending time with my friends and roommates that I’ve grown so close with. With limited social interaction this semester, the pandemic brought us closer together and I’m really grateful for that. 

Now that I’m on winter break and I say I miss college, what I mean to say is that I miss my college friends. I don’t miss being swamped with projects, essays, and leadership and job responsibilities– I miss spending time with the people who bring me nothing but joy and laughter. 

Once I graduate, I know I’m going to look back and remember all the crazy, fun times I had with my friends. That makes me want to devote more time to them while I still can, even if it means sacrificing my grades at times (because as I said earlier, grades don’t matter!)

The right person comes at the right time 

With restriction after restriction, it can be hard to meet people during the pandemic– which is so discouraging. 

But, don’t give up. The right person comes at the right time. 

I know that can be a hard pill to swallow, but trust me on this one. Things happen for a reason. 

That boy you liked that didn’t feel the same way? Yeah, he’s not the right person, and thats a good thing– because the right person is right around the corner and will want to be with YOU. You may have to wait a little longer to find them, but you will. 

You never know who will come into your life and make all that waiting worth it. 

Sometimes you can’t do it all… and thats okay 

As a college student, I find theres a lot of pressure to be to do-it-all girl, who has leadership positions in every club, an on-campus job, an internship, a healthy social life, and somehow manages to maintain a 4.0. 

I look at those people and wonder how in the world they have time to do all that. Preceding junior year, I strived to be that girl and I thought I could do it during junior year. But quickly in the semester, I felt extremely burnt out and it wasn’t good for my health. Not to mention, I was also missing out on some enjoyable moments with my friends. 

I realized that is perfectly okay to not be the do-it-all girl. In fact, I don’t recommend it, because in the long run, there's no point in doing it. 

Find a couple organizations on campus you’re really passionate about, and focus on those. Accept the leadership positions you know you have the time for. Prioritize what’s important to you. 

And don’t forget to carve out some free time for yourself and have fun with your friends! 

Don’t be scared to ask for help 

I don’t know why, but there always seems to be a stigma around asking other people to help you out. But asking others for help is completely normal and is encouraged! 

For instance, I wanted to get an internship for next semester but had no idea where to start. So, I asked some upperclassmen and alumni to help me out by looking over applications and giving me some advice!

Whether it be with internships, class assignments, or even trying to make friends and talk to that cute boy, don’t be scared to confide in people for help. You will learn some valuable things from them that can help you grow in amazing ways! 

Trust me, seeking help is much better than trying to do it alone. 

If you’re a junior like me, or you’re at any college level, know that you don’t have much time left. It’s easier to wonder what to know about college before you attend, but know it’s all a learning process. There’s only so much I can tell you to help you prepare, but some of it you’ll learn as you go– which is a necessary part of college and a big part of growing up. But if you take anything away from this article on what to know about college its this: college goes by so fast before you even have time to catch your breath. So make the most of it while you can! 

This article was originally published on the author’s blog, Christineeve.com