YAY guys! I finally graduated college! No more sitting through boring subjects and 7:30am classes and asshole profs and dragging my useless butt to go to school when I feel like doing anything but that — although to be honest, I feel most relieved that I don’t have to sit through family reunions while my relatives constantly ask me when I’m gonna graduate. Chill guys, the day has finally come.
I know 5 and 1/2 years sounds like eternity to most people, but for me, time sped up without me even noticing. Really. It just got so busy. Finishing a double degree is not an easy feat. Sure, there were times in college where I just sat in class and zoned out and went on food trips during long breaks and hung out with friends and basically did nothing. But when it was busy, man, it got really busy. Sleepless nights and walking like a zombie during the day would sometimes become a norm. And of course, college wouldn’t be college if I’ve not had my fair share of close calls (no thanks to you, alarm) with some impossible deadlines, crazy midterms, and no chill finals.
While college was indeed a pain in the ass, I gotta tell you that I did enjoy every minute of it! People always say that high school is the best years of your life, but for me it was definitely college.
So to cap off my experience, here’s 7 advices I want to share based on my learnings from my college life:
1. An alarm can make or break you.
I learned this the hard way when I almost missed a final presentation because of my stupid alarm (or is it stupid me?)
My groupmates and I were up all night (or should I say early morning?) finishing our presentation for the next day, which was pretty much what you call cramming. Everything was going smoothly and we were still in a bit of a nonchalant mood, albeit the fact that we had about a few hours left til D-DAY. But by the time it was 6am my eyes were feeling very sore and droopy, and I just couldn’t keep them open anymore — so I had to tell my groupmates that I would take a one hour nap, and “be back by 7”. I was sure I set an alarm, but the next thing I knew, I woke up at 10am to about 20 missed calls, and the presentation was supposed to be at 9:45am. Oops. But luck was on my side that day. I live only 5 minutes away from school, so I was able to rush to the venue as soon as I could. When I got there, to my sheer luck, it wasn’t even our turn yet, as there were slight problems with the venue so the group before us was delayed. Whew. Not everyone would be as lucky. To this day, my friends still tease me with my “be back by 7” statement.
You know how high the stakes were? If I had missed that presentation, I would’ve failed the subject. Lesson learned: always double, triple check your alarms.
2. First year is all about exploring.
First year is pretty crucial but also chill. Although the workload is not as heavy as it would be once you go into majors, it’s the year that will set the tone of your whole college life because it’s all about discovery and figuring out what you want out of college. For this, I recommend that you explore and go out of your comfort zone to try new things you’ve never done before. Go to parties, even if it isn’t really your thing, but just go to know what’s going on.
College is a jungle so you’ll meet all sorts of people, so maybe you can try to hang out with all of them and see where you can fit in. If you’re good with everyone, then that’s even better. Join orgs and find out what you’re most inclined to. See if the org life is for you, and if it is, find out which org suits you best. If it isn’t, then maybe you can focus on other things. First year allows you to make as many mistakes as you can; it’s crucial because it’s going to set the direction you’ll go forward to in college, which is why it’s a very experimental year for everyone. I did miss out on some things in my first year because I lived in a very strict household and I was a bit childish; let me just say that if I could have a do-over I probably would’ve done things differently.
3. Choose your crowd wisely.
This is true for the most part. The other part depends on you and your attitude, but who you spend time the most with will obviously have a great effect on the way you go about your acads, extra curriculars and even to the extent of how you spend your breaks and when having fun. I was very lucky to have met really grade-conscious and sorta overachiever friends who wanted to join all kinds of orgs and projects, that I was motivated and driven (or maybe even forced and just went with it) to do the same. But despite that, we all had this kinda chill-attitude-vibe-thing at the same time, that we didn’t really like to stress over things that didn’t happen yet. We were responsible, hated mediocrity, and didn’t like to do things half-assed, and we bonded over that, but at the same time it was unlikely of us to study all day and all night losing sleep in the process, or freak out on people who get in the way of our goals (ehem bad groupmates). We liked to take breaks and have fun as well and we really, really loved sleep. I can’t imagine if I had hung out with a different crowd. Would I have had different priorities? Would I have had become cooler? I guess I’ll never know, but I do feel thankful because my friends were just exactly the right kind of people to push me forward and do things that were beyond my comfort zone.
4. Be open to change.
Loads of people rebrand in college, and you never realize it, but so will you. I know lots of people who used to be laid back and be delinquents in high school, and what do you know, they’re now dean’s listers and student leaders in college. It’s pretty amazing how much a person could change and mature, and it all boils down to being open to change and doing things out of your comfort zone. Your growth is very important! I am pretty proud that I did spend most of my college life doing crazy things, some stupid, but others just life changing and surreal. I experienced planning a party, becoming a president of an org and even joining a dance competition (and we didn’t win but that was the first time I ever performed in front of a crowd of thousands and it was just WOW). Not everything I did ended well, but these things allowed me to become a smarter and better version of myself.
5. It’s okay to fail.
It’s okay to fail (but not so much that that’s all you do, of course). Back in high school, I never had a failing mark, so when it came to college and I had my first failure, it was goddamn hard for me to accept it. But failure is necessary. The lowest grade I had ever gotten was a 32/100 (HA I didn’t even know that kind of grade was possible before) and although that was a bummer, it didn’t really bother me all that much because I knew I had to recover quick. Grades aside, I had failures in other aspects too. Our org organized an event that lost a huge amount of money and although that hurt even more than a failing mark, It was a huge learning curve for me and I never regretted it since. When you fail, you learn. And there’s no other way to go up.
6. Take your time.
For me, my college life started in my 3rd year. It was the time I was most stable with my academics, my social life, and even my extra curriculars. I was excelling in every aspect, and it was in my 3rd year when I finally felt at ease being a college student, and I could finally strut down the hallway feeling like a cool upperclassman (LOL). For some people, they might be good with it as early as first year or even second year, but it all depends on you. So take your time to feel comfortable with where you are because rushing things won’t ever help. The same can be said about those who can’t seem to find the perfect degree for them. I know loads of people who have shifted once or twice until they finally felt happy with where they were. You can take 3 or 4 or 5 or even 6 years in college; it all depends on you. What’s important is that you make it to the end. That’s the great thing about college — that you’re able to set your own pace and do your thing.
7. Let go of stupid fantasies.
This is the most important advice which is why I saved it for last! People always have this grandeur fantasy of what their college life would be like. For me, I always thought it would be the defining moment of my love life (LOL). People always told me that I would find a boyfriend in college because it’s a big ocean full of cute boys who aren’t as awkward as high schoolers and would be actually mature, serious and sincere (HA! Also doesn’t hold true for all). I always thought things would work out the way it did in YA books or kdramas and movies. I’ve imagined my “meet cute” several times — would I meet him in my block? In one of my classes? In an org? Through a common friend? In the pool (don’t even get me started with how this one plays out, safe to say this is my fave)? Sadly, it has never happened the way I actually thought it would. I didn’t meet a cute boy nor did I fall in love in college, and that is okay! In hindsight, what’s more important for me is that I did meet great friends. A whole lot of them. Enough to fill a pantry of chocolate in my imagination. Whether I met them in my block, my classes, or my org, these friends became family.And I’m grateful for all of them because without them — and I am about to sound very cliche — college would definitely not be the same. It would be a drag. It would be a literal hell. And I would’ve been depressed with how things were going, that I would’ve lost motivation going to my classes and might never even have made it to the finish line. My friends are what made my college life. It seems as if each memorable moment I have of college all involve a friend, people who went along with my crazy shenanigans, people who I shared a common goal with, people who turned into my siblings. And it’s just so surreal to actually be here now and look back at all the fun memories we’ve shared. Because what are long breaks for if not spending time with your friends?
But don’t get me wrong. If you did find love in college, then that’s great for you. What I mean is, don’t turn college into a fantasy like me, or put it on a pedestal with your high expectations. Instead, be thankful for what you do find there. You never know, it might just be exactly what you need.
How about you? Do you have any college stories or advices you want to share? Let me know in the comments below! 🙂