I just finished my sophomore year at Hamilton College, and as I think back on the best two years of my life, I have learned some lessons that have manifested themselves in multiple ways throughout college so far. College has been absolutely amazing; I have met people I know will be friends for life and have made unforgettable memories. However, like any time in life, there are ups and downs, and I think it’s important to remember that all mistakes and experiences are simply lessons, even if those lessons are as small as realizing you hate math and will never take another math class again. And to give you a head start, I decided to share some of my own. Keep reading to find out what I’ve learned in college so far.
Everything Happens For a Reason
Sorry for the cliché, but it’s true—and it’s a lesson I keep learning. For example, I didn’t get into the school I originally wanted, but now as I enter my junior year at Hamilton College, I cannot imagine myself anywhere else. Take everything that happens in stride, and make it a point to learn from it and appreciate the positives instead of dwelling on things that didn’t go the way you planned.
Your Friends May Change—and That’s Okay
Specifically, for those entering their sophomore year, realize that your friends may change from your freshman year. But, it’s not a bad thing! Those who stay in your life are the ones that are meant to be there.
Another thing to remember: As you get involved in different societies and clubs, you may find yourself getting closer to new people. When this happens, it’s important to realize that there isn’t a maximum number of friends you can have. Having friends in different circles and social groups may actually be helpful in the long run, so appreciate the new and the old.
College is Only 4 Years (Usually), So Take Advantage Of It
Never again will you be living a few feet away from all your best friends at once, so hang out in each others’ rooms and hit each other up late at night for a snack. Go to a party, stay up late but wake up early, and explore your college town.
Never again will you have access to so many bright people who want to help you grow and learn, so go to your professors’ office hours and ask questions. Use the resources your college offers, whether it is professors, books, services, or clubs. This is the time to take advantage of all the perks being thrown at you because you’ll probably never have this type of access again.
Grades Are Important, But They Aren’t Everything
In high school, I was crazy about my grade—so much that I was literally always stressed out. Getting below an A- to me was not good, even if I did my best. After entering college and realizing that getting a B can be extremely difficult no matter how hard you work, I realized that grades don’t always show how much you learn. I also realized that many of the important lessons come from outside the classroom. Networking events and internships teach you things that classes can’t because you’re getting first-hand experience. So make sure you are learning from all the experiences you are having, while also doing the best you can in your school work. And if you do end up getting a B, don’t beat yourself up about it.
Be Nice to Everyone You Meet
Thankfully, college isn’t like high school, and being the “mean girl” will get you nowhere. In fact, in my experience, as people grow up, they realize that the “coolest” people are actually the nicest. Additionally, you never know when the people you meet will pop back into your life. So be nice to everyone you meet in college—it’ll pay off in spades.
Dress For Yourself and No One Else
I have had to wear a uniform my whole life, so going to college and being able to wear what I wanted was a huge deal. These past two years I have learned more about my personal style and in what I feel most comfortable. Some days I want to wear sweatpants and some days I want to wear a dress. Regardless of how my friends or classmates are dressing, I dress for myself in what I like to wear. College is about discovering yourself, so let yourself be the truest version of you and express your personal style the way you want.
What are the most important lessons you’ve learned in college? Let us know in the comments below!
Opening image by Sarah Gargano.