I always promised myself that I wouldn't be that senior who gets sentimental about graduating, but here I am reminiscing about what I've learned over the past four years. As I reflect on my experience, I am reminded of all the advice my parents and friends gave me before I went off to college -- many of those "words of wisdom" turned out to be myths. I hope that by sharing some things I've learned, you might avoid these pitfalls and have fewer regrets.
1. Don't be roommates with your friend from high school.
If you find out that you'll be going to college with your friend from high school, it can be tempting to forgo the random roommate selection process. You and your friend might claim to know everything about each other, so why risk living with a complete stranger, right? You'll soon find out that living with your friend is very different than hanging out with him for a few hours a day. By sharing a small space, you will learn so much about him (and yourself), which often includes nasty habits and mood swings. You might have thought your friend was a clean person in high school but now he only showers a few times a week and does his laundry once a month. Although I opted for the random roommate process, I've heard horror stories about roommates who were friends at the beginning of the year and turned into enemies by the end. Take a chance and get a random roommate; even if he doesn't end up being your best friend, it's a learning experience nonetheless.
2. Not everyone gains the "Freshman 15."
While most people do gain weight during college, especially during freshman year, you can avoid racking up the pounds through regular exercise and self-control. Many colleges require first-year students to get an unlimited cafeteria meal plan, which encourages overeating, but portion control can help you maintain your weight. In addition, alcohol is very fattening and late-night munchies can cause weight gain. Find a workout buddy and motivate each other to hit the gym a few times a week. Don't worry, your friends won't disown you if you turn down their invitation to go to the cafeteria at midnight once in a while.
3. Fraternity parties are not ideal places to meet a potential boyfriend/girlfriend.
Whether or not you decide to go Greek, you will probably go to at least one fraternity party while you're in college (unless your school doesn't have a Greek system). As a freshman, you assume that when you attend these parties, you will actually have conversations with people. Silly you! Fraternity parties are for drinking, dancing and "hooking up," not socializing. If you want to socialize, go to a low-key party at a friend's apartment or the bar. At a fraternity party, the chances that you will hold a meaningful conversation with a person of the opposite sex are slim to none. Beware of the beer puddles!
4. Study abroad for a semester.
Some people decide not to study abroad during college because they figure they have their whole lives after college to travel the world. In reality, though, many people will not have the opportunity to travel after college until they find a steady job and make some money. You will likely be eager to begin working so you can support yourself before you start thinking about luxuries. Take advantage of those few years you have in college without obligations -- travel to another continent, learn a new language and learn about other cultures. Before you know it, you'll have debt to pay off and a family to support, so don't let your curiosity about the world take a back seat in college.
5. A high GPA is not the most important factor in landing a job.
An impressive GPA might be reason for an employer to seriously consider your resume, but employers are more interested in your experience. What summer internships did you have? Did you shadow a professional in your field of interest? Employers want to see that you are a well-rounded and active member of the community, not just a bookworm. What clubs were you involved in? Did you hold any leadership positions? Rather than signing up for ten different clubs and never showing up to a meeting, invest your time in one or two clubs and work towards holding a leadership position.
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