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Things I Wish I Knew Before Entering College

In high school, we’re told college is the ONLY way to succeed in this world, and while that might be true for certain professions, it isn’t the ONLY option students should have. Although I did decide to go to college, there are so many things I wish I knew before I headed down that route.

The real world is a scary place, and as young adults we have all the time in the world to figure out what we want to do and who we want to be. It takes a lot of trial and error before you come to a point in your life where you’re truly satisfied with where you are. 

But why not explore those options in the meantime? Why settle for something just because someone else told you to? 

And if I decide to go? What obstacles or challenges do I face? 

If these are some questions you’re having, here’s my list of things I wish I knew before entering college:

COLLEGE ISN’T YOUR ONLY OPTION

When we reach senior year of high school, there seems to be this intense pressure to go to a university or college, but there is never any other option for students. What happens to people who don’t find interest in higher education? Students who want to pursue other ambitions or trades? They should be supported in what path they decide to take. Besides going to college, students can explore other options like a trade school or certification class and work at other places until they decide what path they want to take in the future. All options should be available to them! 

THRIFT THOSE BOOKS

If you do decide to go to college, you need to be ready to look at costly educational expenses. My first semester at school took a lot of money from my pocket because I would buy the brand new edition of the required textbooks. Biggest mistake EVER! I later learned there are many websites that have copies of used books in good condition (and if you’re lucky enough, some contain important highlights and notes in the margin). Websites like thriftbooks.com and secondsale.com are both great websites to find the books you need for a cheap price. Of course, there will be books you can only purchase through your university bookstore, but it’s always great to check on those sites first. 

MAKING FRIENDS/ACQUAINTANCES IS IMPORTANT

I’m sure many of us had drama in high school that we all planned to avoid when going to college. I remember vowing to myself I wouldn’t make any friends and just solely focus on my academics. However, that wasn’t the case. I made some really good friends at school, and we’ve all helped each other grow together through college. Whenever I needed a study buddy or had a question about an assignment, I could always reach out to someone and ask. It was nice to know I had people who were going through the same obstacles and journey as me. It surely was comforting! 

CREATE GOOD RELATIONSHIPS WITH YOUR PROFESSORS

This was something I was terrified of doing when I first got to college. There will always be some professors you favor more than others, but that’s totally normal! I have learned to create meaningful relationships with my professors through email, communicating if I needed an extension, had a question about something pertaining to the class and even if I needed someone to talk to. The hardest thing to come to terms with is that your professors don’t want to see you fail. They want to help guide you but only if you let them. I was lucky enough to have such great relationships with my professors that they’ve written letters of recommendation for me and have helped me set a clear path to what I want to do after graduation. So don’t be afraid to send that email! 

The list of things I wish I knew before going to college is LONG, and frankly, we could be here all day! But I’ll leave it short and simple for you all. Don’t be afraid to explore your options outside of college, and if you do decide to go, make sure you take some of these steps to be prepared for what’s to come. 

Regardless of what you decide to do… just know someone is proud of you!

Arieliz Ramos

Montclair '23

Hi everyone! I'm Arieliz and I'm a Junior at Montclair State University. Fashion & Beauty enthusiast. Harry Styles lover. Coffee Addict.
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