I am currently a senior in college, graduating from the University of Arizona in a few short days. After four years at my university, here is what I’ve learned in college:
In college, everyone is a mess.
Coming in as a freshman, everything about starting college is so new and exciting. There is a world of possibility! It’s overwhelming, shocking and exhausting. As a senior, the possibility of graduating and going out into the world is also… overwhelming, shocking and exhausting. No one really knows what they want to do before, during or after graduation — and that’s okay! It’s okay to feel like you don’t have your life together because you’re not alone.
Choose your major wisely.
Nearly everyone I know in college has changed their major at least once. From pre-med to engineering to English to education to psychology to Spanish. I, myself, changed my major from chemical engineering to journalism, adding on environmental studies and then turning that into my minor instead. It’s okay to change majors! Your life isn’t going to fall apart from this one decision. I was pressured into engineering and after taking chemistry and calculus my first semester, I realized that I could never be a chemical engineer! Instead, I evaluated what I wanted in my career and changed it to science journalism, where I’ve had to opportunity to intern at NASA! If you really enjoy your major and the classes you’re taking, you’re more likely to be encouraged and find success in a career in that topic. Take gen-ed classes. Succeed (and fail) in random arts courses or science classes — that’s what will help you find your passion.
My passion for science journalism led me to internships at NASA!
Your family isn’t always right.
Sorry mom, but it’s true! I was pressured into going to my local university and staying home with my family to “save money,” but I really wish that I would have gone to a college of my choosing. My college life would have been TOTALLY DIFFERENT! You need distance from your family to make your own decisions in life and become your own person. My family also pressured me to go into chemical engineering as a freshman, which I despised, and then promptly changed my major. If I hadn’t followed my passion i probably wouldn’t have been able to intern at NASA four times! It’s wise to listen to your family and take their advice, but you also have to make sure that you’re living your life for yourself, not them.
Find your “pack.”
This is something that I never did in college but wish I did. Join a club or a sport. Hang out at the rec center or get a job on campus. I never made solid friendships in college but I wish that I had. It’s so lonely to experience college by yourself. I, eventually, found college friends when I moved to Houston for my internship and I always joke around that I have more friends at other universities than I do at my own (which is true). I found my pack, it’s just not at my university. And here’s the thing — it’s okay! Just make sure that you have someone to be there for you when you’re stressed about an exam or crying about student loans.
It’s the simple things that make you happiest. In one, five, or forty years you won’t remember that time you failed a biology exam or wrote an essay about vampires in Slavic folklore (which yes, I did in college!). You’ll remember the times you had lunch on campus with your friends or went to that puppy party during finals. Of course, college is about finding balance between having fun and studying (because you still need to study for that exam to pass the class, which you will remember on your transcript!). But, most people don’t find this balance. And that’s okay.
Everything will be okay!
Honestly, the biggest thing I learned in college was that everything will be okay in the end. College is hard and there are many night wallowing in misery. Graduation means that you have to be a real adult and actually begin to figure out your life. But if you try and engage yourself in where you want your future to go, everything will have a way of figuring itself out. There are highs and lows in life but you have to live for the highs and get through the lows. You’ll be okay, no matter what happens.
Thank you for reading! College is hard, but that’s okay! What did you learn in college? Let me know in the comments below and like this post if you want more like it!