Graduating from high school is usually a bitter-sweet feeling. Whether you had the most overwhelmingly positive high school experience or a negative one, spending four years of being in the same place usually brings a sense of familiarity and comfort. Change can be exciting and scary at the exact same time and that is normal and expected.
As you finish up the last few months of your senior year, here are some reminders that each of us wish we knew before we packed our bags and headed off to college:
1. Enroll in classes outside of your comfort zone (minor exception: Friday classes at 8 a.m might not be your jam and that is okay!)
2. It’s okay not to get straight A’s
- If you were a straight-A student in HS, it may take you a while (cough all of college cough) to be okay with getting some A-minuses and B plusses—but it is actually fine. Aim for a 3.7 unless you want to go to med school.
- C’s get degrees… but only 3.5s get internships
3. Do not be afraid to change your course (major, professional path, etc.)
- A wise person once told me ‘planning is the springboard, spontaneity is splash”. Set your plan and be intentional about your time and be open to where your curiosities take you
- Sometimes there is a pressure to continue on a path that you’ve already invested time in but if the path is no longer what you’re passionate about it is okay to recalibrate and find another. Ultimately, all roads are connected to all other roads and it’s never too late to
4. Get your work done early so you have time to enjoy yourself when a spontaneous activity pops up
- Say yes to extracurriculars and clubs and performances that are going on around campus
5. Take care of yourself
- Get as much sleep as you can and manage your time so you don’t have to pull all-nighters
- Pay attention to how the type and quantity of food and drinks you consume affects your energy and mental well-being—ice cream for breakfast sounds like a great idea to celebrate your newfound independence, but you’ll soon realize that the sugar crash isn’t (usually) worth it.
- You are responsible for the choices you make, never put yourself in a vulnerable situation
6. Forge your own path- you don’t have to do what everyone else is doing. Do what makes you happy and fill your days with that. Let go of doing things for other people or to fit in. You only get to have the freedom of college once.
7. Go to lecture and get to know your professors and faculty on a personal level
- If your professor has office hours then go!
8. Use your school’s resources
- This is the only time in your life that you will have unlimited access to three square meals a day, a gym, mental and physical health resources, tutoring, career services, and often so much more (music lessons, etc).
- Not to mention all the on-campus activities, from movie nights to lectures to performances, and most importantly, free food!
9. Surround yourself with people who you want to be most like: you will become the 5 people you spend the most time with
10. Know that you belong
11. Enjoy high school while it lasts — live in the moment, not the future
- Obviously, there’s lots of planning to do and it’s exciting to imagine how college will be, but take the time to enjoy your last six months or so before college starts! Go on a road trip, do all the things you never ‘had time’ for before.
12. Take a gap year- if you feel like you’re not quite ready.