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Five Things I Wish Someone Had Told Me Before Starting College

In the months leading up to college, it feels like everybody and their mother is offering us unsolicited advice about the college experience. While some of it might be true, all that advice being thrown at us can get old pretty quickly. Not only that, but I actually found that the actual college advice I needed was beyond what anyone had told me. That being said, I’ve boiled that missing advice down to the top five things I wish someone had told me before coming to college. 

  1. You Can’t Do It All

I am the type of person who throws themselves into every new community they join, and college was no exception. This isn’t meant to be a flex: all the extracurriculars I had picked up very quickly became far too much to handle, and I had to drop a few. If you’re this kind of person, listen to me when I say that it’s not a competition to see who has the least free time. Don’t bite off more than you can chew, because it’s not worth it in the long run, especially for your mental health. Remember that you can always add more extracurriculars if you want to, but it’s never enjoyable (or sustainable) to be in a position where you’re constantly drowning in commitments and don’t have time for yourself.

  1. You Will Get Sick. A Lot. 

Although I brought cold medicine, I didn’t realize how much of an issue getting sick would become. As we started living in shared spaces (looking at you, communal bathrooms), especially following the period of extended isolation caused by COVID, it seemed like everyone was sick all the time. In fact, now that we’re going into flu season, the constant coughing and sniffling around campus have only been exacerbated by the cold weather. That being said, I totally underestimated the amount that we would all be getting sick and thought it was ridiculous that my mother forced me to pack an insane amount of Delsym, NyQuil, Halls cough drops: you name it, it was in my bag. But once I got to campus, I actually ended up running through those packs of cold meds so quickly that I had to make a few Target runs to stock back up. This is all to say that no matter how much faith you have in your immune system, it will eventually be betrayed by the new germs and lack of sleep that are now constant parts of your life. 


Listen, I didn’t buy into this one at all. I am a night owl and proud of it, and I will stay up until the sun rises the next morning if that’s where the night takes me. But after about a month of disregarding sleep (and I’ll admit that scheduling 8 am classes every day, Monday-Friday, didn’t help), I started to feel the effects, and let’s just say that they were not pretty. This one kind of also ties into the sickness advice – fun fact: if you never sleep, your body will not heal from sickness, and it also won’t be strong enough to fight off the new viruses plaguing campus. But take it from someone who didn’t care about sleep and has now been sick for longer than she’s been healthy at college, and get your freaking seven to eight hours of sleep every night. 

  1. Find People You Can Study With

It would be so much easier if we could all just do homework with the same people we do everything else with. But unfortunately, that’s not always the case. When we study with close friends, it’s easy to get distracted and not get work done. And sometimes that’s totally fine – if you’re not in a time crunch or have anything big coming up, that study time can be less productive. However, if you have an exam coming up, or have something due at 11:59 pm that night, that time needs to be well-spent. So, unless you know you can focus on working around your best friends, it’s always helpful to reach out to people in your classes that you’re not as close with to study or review. Not only are y’all on the same page with the class material, but you’re (probably) less likely to distract each other.

  1. Make Time for Yourself

This might be the biggest piece of advice I wish I’d heard. So often we fill our schedules with meetings, classes, or gym time, you name it – but it’s so rare that we remember to add in time for ourselves. This can feel difficult when we’re super slammed with work and other commitments, but it is so, so important to remember to take time out of our days where we don’t have any commitments and can just relax. For me, this can mean going on a run through Reynolda trails or sometimes just laying in bed and watching Netflix, but whatever “me time” looks like for you, just keep making time for it. Mental health is incredibly important, so remember to treat yourself with kindness and prioritize yourself. 

Emory Lewis

Wake Forest '25

Hey! I'm Emory, and I'm a freshman at Wake Forest University in North Carolina, although I'm originally from Annapolis, Maryland. I'm planning to major in Biology on a pre-med track, and in my free time, you can find me at the gym, re-watching Grey's Anatomy, or playing with my dogs. Hope y'all enjoy!
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