College crash course.

Look who goes to college!
Look who goes to college!

Today is the first day of college for many students – this is something most people probably don’t pay much attention to, but when you live in a college town, it’s all anyone talks about. It probably doesn’t help that I work with mostly college students.

But, hearing my coworkers’ stories often reminds me of college, even though it’s been 12 years since I started and a whopping 8 since I graduated! However, working at LSU for almost 7 years… sometimes it feels like I never left (until I actually did).

For the longest time, I never even considered going to college. Neither of my parents went, and I figured their lives were pretty good. But the older I got, the more my friends talked about college as if it wasn’t even a question: of COURSE they were going.

When I presented an interest in higher ed, my parents graciously offered to send me wherever I desired. They also offered a piece of advice that ended up being invaluable to me: get out of state.

My parents knew that I had dreams of leaving Indiana, and that if I didn’t leave for college, I would probably never leave. And so, long story short, I ended up in Baton Rouge to attend Louisiana State University.

I won’t lie, it was scary as hell the day we had to pack up and leave the house I grew up in. Even after an entire semester down South, I was homesick. It was a huge culture shock. But of course, I wouldn’t trade it for any other experience.

I learned a lot in those years — in and out of the classroom. I look back at it, and sure, there are moments when I wish I could have worked less, partied more, perhaps studied more, or been more social. But I am who I am, and a lot of that had to do with my college years.

I saw an article on Huffington Post offering advice to incoming college freshman. A lot of it was pretty worthless, so I’ll offer the only three pieces of advice I think you’ll need:

  1. Get out. If you can’t go far away to college, at least make new friends — no one wants to relive high school. It also helps to explore the city you’re in; get off campus and see what’s out there.
  2. Do the extracurriculars. Sure, the whole experience of college is overwhelming, but you’ve got to join a club, or something! It should come as no surprise that I was a complete media rat and worked for 4/5 media groups on campus. Not only did I make a little money, but I made some life-long friends. I also met upperclassmen that gave me invaluable advice about classes and graduating. And honestly? I learned more in my media work than I did in any class I took, ever. It looked great on my resume and it packed my portfolio.
  3. Follow through. Go to class. It’s so easy to skip, but if you actually go, it’s really easy to make good grades. I learned it the hard way! If you go to class, pay attention and take notes, studying is much easier, and the tests are a breeze. And by all means, just graduate. College can be overwhelming, and there are times when I was tempted to quit. But not having a degree is going to make your entire life that much more difficult. Take it from me: the job hunt is literally a HUNT. Get that degree!

I won’t say that college is the best time of your life; because if that’s the case, then what’s the point of living after college? I will say, though, that it’s a unique time in your life and it’s certainly a great opportunity to learn about yourself — the person you’ll be post-graduation.

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