25 things college students wish they’d known sooner

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Find your place & your people

1. “Enjoy all of your ‘firsts.’ Don’t worry about not knowing the city, what you’re getting into, or who to ask advice from. Know you will figure it out.”
—Third-year undergraduate, University of Wisconsin–Madison

2. “Get involved in school organizations right away: I wish I did! I am so happy now and finally feel a part of something real.”
—Fourth-year undergraduate, University of Maryland

3. “Do something each day that you wouldn’t have done before. Don’t stay in a bubble.”
—Fourth-year undergraduate, University of California, Los Angeles

4. “Don’t go home during the weekends. Spending time with friends on the weekends provides some of the best memories.”
—2015 graduate, Temple University, Pennsylvania

5. “The people you hang out with your first few weeks are unlikely to be your friends continuing on, but they will help you meet your other friends.”
—Second-year undergraduate, Portland State University, Oregon

6. “Partying with someone doesn’t necessarily make them your friend.”
—Name and college withheld

7. “My freshman year I kept my dorm door open to tell everyone I was up for a conversation.”
—Graduate student, Illinois State University

In class & on campus

8. “Utilize campus resources. All of them. Your tuition is covering the cost, so why not take full advantage of what you’re paying for?”
—Third-year undergraduate, Indiana University Southeast

9. “See your academic advisor. You want to make sure that you’re taking classes that you need, not classes that you think you need.”
—Fifth-year undergraduate, California State University, San Marcos

10. “Nobody will judge you for going to tutoring. It makes a difference.”
—Name and college withheld

11. “Get to know your instructors/professors. You never know when you might need to request an excellent reference letter, and they can be great mentors.”
—Fourth-year undergraduate, Texas Woman’s University

12. “Go and get accommodations if you have learning disabilities, whether you feel like you need them or not.”
—Name and college withheld

13. “Don’t be afraid to head in a direction. If you don’t like it, you can change.”
—Fourth-year student, Elgin Community College, Illinois

14. “Do not start a new series on Netflix the week before finals. I repeat: Do not start a new series!”
—Second-year undergraduate, South Dakota State University

15. “Nothing on campus is worth missing studying abroad.”
—2015 graduate, Gustavus Adolphus College, Minnesota

The key to thriving

16. “Exercising, sleeping well, and eating well will be your key to surviving college and making good grades.”
—Name and college withheld

17. “A run a day is better than a cup of coffee at keeping you awake.”
—Second-year undergraduate, University of Wisconsin–Madison

18. “Seeking counseling is not a sign of weakness.”
—Fifth-year undergraduate, Metropolitan State University of Denver

19. “Just because your food debit gives you unlimited access to the food doesn’t mean you should eat all of it.”
—Name and college withheld

20. “Prioritize a healthy lifestyle. Student Health 101 made it simple to see affordable options to staying healthy. I wish I would have known about it earlier!”
—Name and college withheld

21. “All-nighters are a terrible creation. Space out your studying and get some sleep.”
—Doctoral student, University of the Pacific, California

Looking ahead

22. “Internships are almost mandatory. Apply to every place that interests you. Who knows what incredible opportunity you’ll get by going all out.”
—Name and college withheld

23. “Double check, triple check that you are graduating when you want and that you have all the units and classes you need. Triple check. Trust me.”
—2015 graduate, University of California, Riverside

24. “Go to the career center and get your résumé checked out. Go to the seminars and see how to write a cover letter. Go to the career fairs and actually research the companies you’re planning on visiting.”
—Fourth-year undergraduate, California Polytechnic State University–San Luis Obispo

25. “Don’t rush to be a grownup. I’ve heard it’s not all it’s hyped up to be.”
—First-year graduate student, Truman State University, Missouri  

What worked for you? Six student correspondents share solutions


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