College Beyond Textbooks — What They Don’t Tell You About College

As I stood in the line at the Registrar’s Office waiting to talk to someone about dropping a class after yet another session with my major advisor, a couple of things dawned on me. When coming to college they tell you to bring a lamp for those late night study sessions, and a plethora of snacks for when you're snowed in or the cafeteria food just isn't doing it, so it's Kraft Mac and Cheese FTW. But what they don't tell you is how easy it is to fail a class, that most people don't graduate in the allotted four year period, your major might not correlate directly to what you do in the future, and your GPA (sometimes) only matters for grad school. Beyond the basics, there are some things that should be given attention.

Your professors make a huge difference in your experience

This seems almost painfully obvious, but a lot of people don’t understand the importance of picking the right professors. My experience in Experimental Psychology with professor A can be completely different from your experience in Experimental Psychology with professor B.

Rate My Professor is an online tool in which you can (basically) shop for professors like you’re searching for the perfect Airbnb. A professor who is not a “tough grader,” who comes with a low level of difficulty, who gives extra credit and is considered inspirational are things that end up on the list of ideal traits. It’s like creating a Sims character, but the Sims character plays a role in whether or not you ditch your major.

A lot of people turn to Rate My Professor and memorize it like a scripture before going on the grueling challenge of choosing the right classes, and more importantly the right teacher. Keep in mind that Rate My Professor is based on perspective, and it’s possible to get an A in any class that you put your mind to!

Internships can be more important than a 4.0 GPA

Some of us come out of high school not having a clear direction of what we want to do with our lives. This is fine, except it means that unfortunately, we can’t all come into college with four years of internship experience under our belt and four more years lined up. Of course, this is a vast exaggeration, but it fits how emphasized the importance of an internship is before entering the workforce. Internships are becoming increasingly necessary and are standard for employers as they want you for your hands-on experience in your particular job area of interest.

A report shows that 40 percent of college students reported to not have done an internship. The biggest reason may be that students are told to wait to get an internship until their junior or senior year of college. Don’t fall into the trap, start as early as possible!

If you are lucky enough to know exactly what you want to do career wise while in high school, it is never too early to look into internships. There are many recruiters looking to help cultivate people just like you.

As Dan Schawabel, the founder of Millennial Branding said, how is one to get an internship if their resume is blank? Well, make sure to get super involved in clubs and personal activities outside of class to start building a resume to obtain the internship of your dream! Even if you’re deciding to go into college undeclared, think about your hobbies. What clubs did you join in high school, or what do you do in your free time? Focus on that and seek out an internship that coincides.

If you don’t start that early don’t fret! You still have time. Internships can be done well into and beyond graduate school.

Grade inflation is real, and not everyone comes out of college with a degree in the allotted four years

Did you know that the average college GPA of today, a 3.15 is 0.63 higher than 60 years ago, and is expected to keep increasing as colleges are being more generous with their grades? As a result of grade inflation, practically half of college grades given are A’s.

It gets better. Are you aware that most college students don’t earn a degree in four years? Many things can play a factor in this. Some popular factors include changing majors, adding majors and minors, retaking classes, and taking a few classes at a time. So don’t let people make you feel bad if you decide to change your mind about what you’re going to do for the rest of your life and end up staying in college longer than expected.

People have testimonies of never being asked for their college GPA even once while job hunting, and many individuals find that their intended major in college took them a completely different career route than what they originally expected, and that’s okay. Knowing these things help keep me grounded whenever I start to compare my academic choices and success to someone else’s.

Take these things into consideration while on your college journey! Remember that this is not an attempt to play down the opportunities that come with a higher GPA, or a way to coerce you into spending more time in college (it would be ideal if you get out when you can, Sallie Mae’s loans are no joke).

It’s a reminder that not everyone’s path is the same, and your unique path does not make you any less qualified to live your life. Next time you’re feeling down, remember that a degree is still a degree and a success is still a success regardless of the amount of time or course it took to arrive!