Tomorrow, I am flying back to school for the new academic year. I am halfway done with college, and today I look back at the past two years and look forward to the next two years. Throughout my college experience, I have learned many new things, and today I thought I would share with you 10 lessons college has taught me outside of the classroom.
1. Friends are Family. Chose carefully.
The friends I have met in college are the most amazing people. They are some of the most loving and supportive people I have ever met in my life and I am so incredibly happy they are in my life. God definitely blessed me with wonderful and life-long friendships through school. That being said, choose your friends carefully. Your friends in college will have a significant impact on you. You are no longer in high school where you see your friends for eight hours a day and occasionally on the weekends. You live with these people. Very quickly, you will know the good and the bad parts of them. Make sure the people you let into your life are people who will leave a good impact.
2. Own what you believe or it won't last long.
I attend a Christian university, so I am blessed to have Christian professors, Christian classes, chapel once a week, and a plethora of ministries right at my finger tips. However, even if you attend a Christian university (but especially if you don't) you need to make a conscious decision of what you believe. You are no longer living at home with parents who made you go to church and youth group. You get to choose how you're going to live your life. You need to own your faith in order to keep it, otherwise, you endanger letting it fade.
3. If you drink coffee. Invest in a single serve coffee maker. SERIOUSLY.
I've read some other lists that have included coffee makers as a waste of money, I highly disagree. If you are a person that drinks coffee regularly, invest in one. Personally, I only typically drink one cup at a time, but I do that sometimes a few times a day. Due to this, I don't use a big pot coffee maker because I won't drink all of it. It's true that the campus dining options will most likely have coffee, it's not always available to you. On my campus, you have to use a meal swipe every time you go in, and they are only open certain hours. I don't have unlimited meals, so I don't want to waste it going to get coffee. You'll be thankful you have a cup of coffee ready to go on those chilly mornings walking to 8:00 AM classes.
4. Be confident in yourself. The ones who matter think you're great.
I know that you still don't know entirely who you are and what you want to do, and that can shake your confidence at times. However, be confident in woman God made you to be. Surround yourself with people you love and who love you, they are the people that matter. The last thing I want for you is to miss out on great things in life because you're confidence is shaking. This past late spring, some of my friends and I were going to go to the beach. I had never been to the ocean before and initially was really excited. However, I was so close to letting the fear of wearing a swimsuit in front of my friends that I almost didn't go. I thought everyone would be thinking that I was too overweight to wear a swimsuit and people would stare and whisper. None of that happened in the slightest. All I remember is having one of the best days of my life with my friends. If I had let my fear get the best of me, I would never have had that day.
5. Find where you study best and use it.
Obviously, studying is crucial in college. You do not want to waste thousands of dollars to have to go to school an extra year because you failed classes. I encourage you to find what environment you study best in and use that to your advantage. Personally, I study best in coffee shops. I like how there is a little bit of a buzz around me. That keeps me alert and focused. I've tried studying in libraries, and while I do that sometimes, it is usually too quiet for me. If I'm in my room, I normally get distracted by other things I need to do, or I fall asleep. I love either going to the coffee shop on campus or some of our local coffee places in town.
6. Make and use a budget.
My first year, I really didn't do much to budget. I found myself wasting money on things I really didn't need, and honestly, in a dorm, didn't really even have room for. It is a wise idea to lay out a budget for all the things you normally spend money on, that includes the basics like gas, any groceries, personal care items, but also your fun money. In college, you will be going out with friends, which is good. However, it can also get to be expensive. It's okay to say no to going out every once in awhile if you simply can't afford to be spending more money. I promise you they're still going to be your friends. This year I'm trying something new where I'm going to take out a set amount of money in cash at the beginning of each month for fun spending. So anytime I go out to eat, buy coffee, go to the movies, or something like that, I'm not blindly using my debit card. I write out my monthly budget on paper and put it in my finance binder, and then I also use the free app WellSpent to track it daily.
7, Schedule me-time every week
Every day you are going to be pretty busy and even overwhelmed with classes, homework, and possibly a job or an internship. With that brings a lot of stress, which is why setting aside time every week for some much-deserved "me-time" is so important. My favorite way to do this is by putting on comfy clothes, using a face-mask, and doing something like painting my toes, watching a TV show, or even just planning things on Pinterest.
8. Accept that you will stay up late
Once again, college means studying. Don't buy into the people who say you don't need to show up to class and you can study the night before and slide by. I am a person who likes her sleep, and I normally don't enjoy staying up after midnight. However, final exams, term papers, and projects for lesson planning sometimes require it. That's the lifestyle of college, and just remember that it won't last forever. So go to your favorite study spot, chug a cup of coffee, and fight through it.
9. Call your mom
Whether you are just about to embark on your college adventure for the first time, are in the middle of it like me, or are about to graduate, call your mom. Just because you're starting to be on your own, doesn't mean you don't need your mom anymore. Personally, the way I get my stress out is talking it out. My mom has always been the best listener I know, and she lets me sit and rant about whatever I need to until I feel better. So don't think you're too old to call your mom.
10. It's okay to not know the answers
Right now I am 20 years old, and there is so much I don't know. My first year of college, and a bit of my second year, I had times where I freaked out over if I chose the right career path, was it really smart of me to go to school so far away, and other things. While I'm still a worrier naturally, I've come to rest easier that I don't need to know all of the answers.