Things I Wish I Knew Before Starting College

For some of us the summer is just another season that passes us by, but for most students across the country it’s the beginning of a new chapter. Here are a few things I wish I knew before starting & going through my college years…

  • Don’t allow anyone to hold you back!

Now, when I say anyone I mean anyone, including your parents. Don’t make the same mistakes that I made… I’m not saying you’ll absolutely regret it, but you might… (I realized this before I started college, but the same lesson applies.)

The beginning of Senior year I had huge plans! I was going to graduate, head to college to become a history teacher & well, I hadn’t thought much about what would happen after that. I couldn’t wait to be living on campus, making new friends, living away from home, gaining the whole college experience. When I expressed this to my parents it was the end of the world, well the living on campus part was. My Dad was pretty accepting, he knew it’d happen eventually, my Mother on the other hand wasn’t so happy about the idea.
I come from a Mexican-American family where at the time all my cousins were either already parents or about to be parents. Unfortunately the mistakes of other family members filled my Mom up with many different conclusions on how my life would turn out. (It still effects her today & it’s pretty annoying if you ask me.) So whenever the subject of going away to college would come up, I questioned whether I needed to go away to college. I didn’t know if I should stay nearby to keep them happy, or disappoint them for a bit by going away & giving them no choice but to accept it… It was pretty annoying at the time, & when I think back it’s one of my biggest regrets.  Then I got a boyfriend.
Mistake #2!

  • Please don’t allow your significant other to dictate anything having to do with your future!

(Actually, you shouldn’t allow them to dictate anything having to do with certain choices, but I’ll end up discussing this issue in another post.)
I’ve always struggled with confidence issues since I can remember, so I was very naive & easy to manipulate when it came to being in a relationship. He was able to convince me to ditch the idea of going off to college because, “What am I going to do without you?”

At the time I wish I would’ve said something along the lines of, ” Just cause you feel you can’t go to college doesn’t mean I shouldn’t.” Along with other not-so-nice words.. I can go on for ages about that moment.

But obviously my dumbass didn’t say anything & it really held me back from a lot of plans. I missed out on a lot of awesome experiences, & truly messed up my views on being able to achieve my goals. I did end up going to a community college, but that wasn’t the plan to begin with. I struggled internally with my decisions everyday.

So please, I ask of you; follow your heart. If you want it, if you see it, if it’s been the plan, don’t allow anyone to stop you from going to college, traveling, studying abroad, or experiencing life.

If your significant other truly loves you, they’ll want nothing but success for you & will encourage you to pursue your goals.

  •  Your friends will turn into acquaintances. Accept it.

It’s very true. Some friends are only in your life for a portion of it. Remember, you’re still young! It’s a part of life to grow apart from people & you’re only hurting yourself by taking it personal. Everyone is starting on their own journey by either going to college, traveling, joining the military whatever it may be.

You might be lucky & be able to keep in touch with a few friends that grow & change with you. The ones who call/text you & when hanging out you’re able to pick up right where you left off. Those kinds of friendships are the best! But very rare so don’t fuss over it.

You’ll make new friends & a lot of the time you’ll reconnect with old high school friends at a different point in life. Some people who might’ve been acquaintances in high school will become your new best friend later on! You just never know, go with the flow & the understanding that the world is very new at the moment. The routine of going to class & having lunch at the same table in the cafeteria is gone, & some people either want to hold onto that, or grasp a new reality head on.

  • Don’t compare your journey to anyone else’s.

I used to compare my success to others that were around me & it discouraged me greatly. I always felt like my projects weren’t good enough, & it made want to constantly give up. Thankfully, I’ve learned to have the success of others inspire me! Not everyone has the same work ethic, some people learn faster, & others have been working on a craft their whole lives! Learn to be inspired by others, not broken down & watch your outlook on life change.

This also counts when looking at the milestones that others have hit. Some people get married right out of high school, or start a family. Others start to travel the world & never settle down. Those milestones come to each individual at a uniquely different time.
During your college years, if all your friends are getting married or starting families; it doesn’t mean you have to find someone to begin that journey. None of these things have deadlines that you have to meet. Even if friends are convincing you that there is, I guarantee you there isn’t.

  • Take care of yourself physically & mentally.

Eat the best you can, & do a bit of exercise. Even if it’s parking a little farther in the parking lot, or going for a walk during a study break. It also helps to breathe some fresh air every once in a while!

Remember to stay healthy mentally as well! Confine in a friend or a parent with whatever is going on in your life. If you feel you don’t have anyone to vent to*, buy a journal & write! Sometimes all you need is a “mind dump”, especially at the end of the night. Even if you’re scribbling because your mind is working too fast for your hand, let it out!

*Be sure to look into the different programs or forms of help that your campus can have regarding mental health. Don’t be afraid to ask for help!

  • Take lots of photos.

  • It’s okay to be selfish.

Read those words again & again, & again. One more time. Got it?

This is something that I’ve always struggled with & was just burned into my skull about 2 years ago.

When I say “selfish” I mean its okay to say no to anything you don’t want to do. (Besides homework, projects etc. Do good in school y’all.) You have to make sure that you when you say yes to someone, you’re not telling yourself no. If you want to stay in & study, do so. You want to catch up on sleep, do it while you have the chance. Don’t allow others to step all over you or use you. Everyone is working towards something & means you are too.

Do your best to recognize when someone is taking you for granted & speak up about it. Nobody likes confrontation, but a lot of the time the other person doesn’t even realize how they’re making you feel. Communication is key, whether its friendship or relationship.

If the other person doesn’t understand their actions it may be time to cut off that friendship/relationship*. It’ll be hard, but you’ll thank yourself in the end. Like I said above, some friendships are only for a season.

*If you’re in an abusive relationship please seek help. Talk to a counselor about what actions to take, or where they can direct you for help.

  • It’s okay to change your major.

Yes! I cannot express this enough! This goes back to he beginning of letting people hold you back, don’t hold yourself back either.

So you started school to be a history teacher & changed your major to music.. It’s okay! Most people change their majors about 4 times while in college anyway, nothing is concrete until you receive your degree! Relax. I hesitated to change my degree because I was scared to tell my parents. Ultimately this is what it came down to in my mind; its my education, I’m putting in the work, & I’m the one that will have to work within the field I picked. There was that.

I still get a lot of crap for changing my major, but I go to work happy & come home happy because I love it. I don’t know if I’d be able to say that if I was teacher, & not having the answer to that question doesn’t bother me at all.

  • You’ll change as a person, & that’s okay. 

  • You don’t have to know everything about the future right NOW.

*Disclaimer: This post is based off personal experience & personal opinion.
Do not use this post as a replacement for personal, physical, or mental health. Please seek professional help. If you’re in a verbally or physically abusive relationship please seek professional help. Although I am sharing personal experiences and mistakes, it is solely to share.

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