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If you had the chance, what would you tell your college self?
posted in: Lifestyle
by Christy McFarland

What I wish I knew before college

Do you ever look back and wish you knew certain things before going to college? (Me, too.) Here are nine tips recent grads say they wish they knew ahead of time.  

1.  Take advantage of opportunities

“I wish someone encouraged me to take advantage of the unique opportunities. Network, join clubs, travel. I missed a lot because I stayed in my comfort zone too often.”

“I wish I would have done an internship. It's a great way to build your resume and will help you be more competitive amongst your peers when you graduate.”

2.  It goes fast

 “I wish someone told me how fast college goes by.”

3.  Don’t sign up for multiple credit cards

“Every turn you take in college, it seems like someone is trying to get you to sign up for a credit card in exchange for a free tee shirt. While we’re on the topic, I wish someone explained the concept of building up credit while in college. Use your one credit card sparingly and pay it off right away to start upping your score.”

4.  Learn how to manage your time

"I didn’t realize how much down time you have in college. I wish I managed my time a little better. College is a great place to start developing your time management skills, preparing you for the “real world” someday.”

5.  Learn the basics

“This is embarrassing, but I wish I knew how to do laundry before going off to college.”

“Where do I begin? I wish I knew how to change a tire. I wish I knew how to cook before college. I wish I had better money management skills. I wish I knew how important balance was for a healthy lifestyle.”

“I wish I realized how important regular car maintenance was. Unfortunately, I was burned one too many times with preventative car repairs.”

6.  Know how much debt you’re racking up

“As a high school student, I had no concept of the cost of education from a private university. I only applied for minimal scholarships. I didn't fully understand until post-graduation when my first loan payment came due. Every time I hand that money over, I think about everything else I could be using that money for.”

7.  Make connections

 “I wish I knew getting straight A’s is not as important as it was in high school. What's more important is making good connections and forming relationships with professors, advisors, internship contacts and volunteer contacts that translated into job opportunities when I graduated.”

8.  Travel

“If I went back and did it all over again, I would have taken a “gap year” to travel. That might have led me to picking a different major, and possibly even going to a different school – maybe even out of state.”

9.  It’s not easy

“I wish I knew how hard college can be. I figured out pretty quickly you actually have to study in college. It’s so much harder than high school.”

“I wish I knew you didn’t have to have a specific career in mind for your major. You also don’t have to stick with the same major if you decide your original choice is not for you. I felt like at 18, I had to know exactly what to do with my future. Now I know from experience, your future changes over time.”

What do you wish you knew before heading off to college? Tell us in the comments!

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