Advice People Wish They’d Been Given Before Starting College

There are a lot of factors to consider when you’re making the decision about where you want to go to college, what you want to study, or if you want to go at all. Making the transition from high school to college is a big adjustment, too. You’re constantly going to be faced with new information and new situations, and it can be overwhelming for an 18-year-old to deal with.

Learning from people who have already experienced something is always a good option, which is why these people have shared the things they wish they’d known before starting college.

Don’t Rely On Your Advisor To Have All The Answers

women in meeting
Photo Credit: Pexels
Photo Credit: Pexels

“Never trust ANYTHING an adviser says without checking it out for yourself. Especially at larger schools where the staff/student ratio is low” — Reddit

Your advisor is there to give you advice and guidance, but they’re still human. They make mistakes, they read program requirements and course guidelines wrong too. Listen to what they’re saying, but do your own research too so you don’t end up taking courses you don’t need or stuck in a course that doesn’t count towards your major.

College Isn’t The Right Path For Everyone

person sitting on dock in mountains
Photo Credit: Unsplash / Simon Migaj
Photo Credit: Unsplash / Simon Migaj

“I wish I took a year off to get to know myself more and what I wanted to do with my life. I wish I learned about the opportunities of learning a trade. I wish I wasn’t pressured into higher education without first appreciating the financial burdens that come along with it.” — Reddit / typical93

It’s Okay To Take A Year Off After High School

men seated watching sunset
Photo Credit: Unsplash / Raghu Nayyar
Photo Credit: Unsplash / Raghu Nayyar

“You don’t have to go immediately after you finish high school. Take that year off of studying if you need. Work that part-time job and save up a bit. Travel and hang out with friends. After you’ve had your break and you’re sure on a course to study then apply for college/uni. There’s no rush.” — Reddit / Papercliip

Even if most of your friends are going to college straight from high school, that’s not necessarily the right decision for you. Being one year “behind” everyone else doesn’t matter.

Internships Pay Off, Even The Unpaid Ones

group of young people working on laptops
Photo Credit: Unsplash / Annie Spratt
Photo Credit: Unsplash / Annie Spratt

“GET AN INTERNSHIP. Doesn’t matter what, if it’s even tangentially related to your major or minor, you WILL NOT regret it. Every job I’ve gotten has sprung directly from connections I made at that internship.” — Reddit / FloobLord

“Get an internship while in college! Employers are looking for people with experience AND a degree.” — Reddit

Your High School Relationship Might Not Last

couple on bed holding hands seated
Photo Credit: Unsplash / Sinitta Leunen
Photo Credit: Unsplash / Sinitta Leunen

“Don’t be in a relationship with a girl from high school your entire freshman year whom you eventually break up with.” — Reddit / ILL_Show_Myself_Out

“On that note, long-distance relationships rarely work out. Sure, some do, but the majority of the time you’re going to either cheat or wish you were single. Save yourself the stress and go to college single.” — Reddit / yelllowjacketcoder

“Everyone Is Nervous”

woman standing alone wearing backpack
Photo Credit: Unsplash / Tim Gouw
Photo Credit: Unsplash / Tim Gouw

“Try and meet as many new people as possible. Everyone is nervous and looking to meet new people, so just put yourself out there. You are not alone. Knowing a lot of people is a very good thing in college.” — Reddit / assum09

Just force your friendship upon everyone you meet, then weed out people later. Everyone is feeling just as nervous and insecure as you are, so use that to your advantage and make lots of friends right away.

8 A.M. Class Hits Different In College

students in classroom lecture
Photo Credit: Unsplash
Photo Credit: Unsplash

“8 a.m. in college, is not the same as 8 a.m. in high school. 99.9% of the time you will regret choosing that early class.” — Reddit / cvlds

It’s like a switch flips when you hit college and suddenly your ability to function in class at 8 a.m. can be seriously hindered. Start with one early morning class and see how it goes before you plan your full your schedule.

You’re Not Going To Get An A In Every Course

woman stressed out studying
Photo Credit: Pexels
Photo Credit: Pexels

“Expect to not get as good of grades as you did in high school. Some professors curve down or up. Taking easy classes will only help your overall GPA, but many jobs (if they look at your GPA) will only look at your major GPA.

“For instance, this applies for engineers, you have to do well in your major classes, but if you decided to take psychology or poli sci, and for some reason get a D, don’t believe that it’s the end of the world.” — Reddit / bewareoftraps

Don’t Wait Until You Graduate To Look For A Job

college graduation back of man
Photo Credit: Unsplash / Charles Deloye
Photo Credit: Unsplash / Charles Deloye

“Start looking for a job at least 6 months before graduation and you may spare yourself YEARS of job search frustration.” — Reddit / SevenSixOne

As much as you want to focus on your senior year of college or your final semester, you can’t pretend the rest of the world outside your bubble doesn’t exist. Save yourself the post-graduation stress by starting to look for jobs before that day comes.

RateMyProfessor Is Not The Bible

professor teaching in class with projector
Photo Credit: Unsplash
Photo Credit: Unsplash

“RateMyProfessor can really lead you in a good direction with professors, but don’t take the extreme positive or negative posts on there too seriously.” — Reddit / caxila

If it seems like every review is telling you a professor is great or a professor is terrible, it’s probably pretty accurate. Just don’t let a few bad reviews scare you off of taking a course you could end up really enjoying. Wait to judge for yourself.

Talk To People In Your Classes On The First Day

group of college students working
Photo Credit: Unsplash / Priscilla Du Preez
Photo Credit: Unsplash / Priscilla Du Preez

“Talk to people in your classes! Be friendly and sit by someone who looks nice on the first day of class. I always try to have the phone number or email of at least one trustworthy person in the class in case I miss a day and need to catch up. This is especially important in your major-specific classes because it’s likely you’ll see the same people in these classes through your time in your major.” — Reddit / hopemhale

Don’t wait until the day you need someone’s notes from a missed lecture to make friends with people in your class.

You Should Pick Your Major, Not Your Parents

glasses sitting on open book
Photo Credit: Pexels
Photo Credit: Pexels

“Ignore your parents’ wishes. If you don’t have the mind to do whatever program your parents want for you, you won’t get far. Stop wasting time. It’s your life, not your folks’. I TA’d for commerce and computers, and it’s heartbreaking to see students whose parents forced them into that program but they clearly hate it and/or are failing because they just don’t get the material.” — Reddit / snooj

You’re the one who has to make it through the four years of your program, and then potentially a career in that field.

Sorry, But You Might Be The Reason You’re Stressed Out

student behind pile of textbook
Photo Credit: Pexels
Photo Credit: Pexels

“Often times, the stress you are experiencing about school and the assignments is due to procrastination. Start looking over the assignment as soon as it’s available and plan out your work.

“The little things like doing the readings or going to/watching the lecture on the day it’s assigned is more helpful than you might think. Do not let that small stuff pile up, you will not like yourself when it’s crunch time.” — Reddit / a-studyinviolet

The Bookstore Overcharges For Textbooks

pile of textbooks
Photo Credit: Unsplash / Sharon McCutcheon
Photo Credit: Unsplash / Sharon McCutcheon

“Don’t buy books from the school bookstore if you can find them anywhere else.” — Reddit / jacques45

The school bookstore is always going to be the most expensive option for buying anything. Before you spend $500 on textbooks during your first semester, look for used versions of the texts you need, check online resources, or see if the school library has a version you can borrow.

They Don’t Have To Be The Best Years Of Your Life

women lying in hammock
Photo Credit: Unsplash / Janko Ferlic
Photo Credit: Unsplash / Janko Ferlic

“Any time when I was in college and I wasn’t having a good time, I felt like I was wasting those best years of my life. ‘Meet the best friends you’ll ever have,’ ‘find your passions,’ I would hear as if it’s the only chance you’ll ever have to do any of those things. As it turns out, I’ve been far happier in the few years since I graduated than I actually was in college, in a way, it feels like the pressure’s off.” — Reddit / Cleverpenguins

Your Professors Can (And Want To) Help You

professor teaching at chalk board
Photo Credit: Unsplash / Tra NGuyen
Photo Credit: Unsplash / Tra NGuyen

“Do not underestimate the advantages of building a personal relationship with your professors. They can help you get internships, offer mentoring advice, and write your future letter or recs. It is absolutely NOT embarrassing to ask for help or go to office hours.” — Reddit / CaliButterfly

It’s A Great Time To Try Something New

man looking at photo of the moon
Photo Credit: Pexels
Photo Credit: Pexels

“TRY NEW THINGS. You’re not going to get an opportunity like college—it’s simply the best place to explore everything you can do. Get involved with something you like doing, meet people, take that language course that you always wanted to take, visit restaurants, attend seminars, WHATEVER. If it wasn’t fun, it’ll at least make for a good story.” — Reddit / Lolleroni

Always Ask For Student Discounts

sign advertising store
Photo Credit: Pexels / Artem Beliaikin
Photo Credit: Pexels / Artem Beliaikin

“You have a student ID, use it! You can get discounts on everything from software to lift tickets. It never hurts to check or ask.” — Reddit

You’d be surprised how many places offer 5 or 10% off for students, they just might not advertise that fact.

How To Navigate A Shared Laundry Room

woman sitting on laundry machines
Photo Credit: Unsplash / Ionana Cristiana
Photo Credit: Unsplash / Ionana Cristiana

“Put your laundry basket on top of the machine if you leave while it’s running. Partly because it’s convenient, and partly because in the event that you forget about your laundry or don’t get back quickly enough and someone wants to use the machine, they will hopefully be a decent human being and put it in the basket” — Reddit / bibblia

Use Your Free Time For Something Productive

man in crowded room at table
Photo Credit: Pexels / Stefan Lorentz
Photo Credit: Pexels / Stefan Lorentz

“I had a lot of fun in college. I had done a lot of productive things. I have also wasted time over a lot of useless things. I wish someone would have told me that never ever in my life, I will again get the same time, leisure and space to learn new things.” — Reddit / adango

One of the big adjustments between high school and college is the amount of free time you’ll suddenly have. Use some of it for school work, some of it for relaxing and socializing, and some of it for something interesting.