What I Wish I Would’ve Known: Be Open to the Opportunities Around You

By Rachael Smith, Student at Radford University

I could probably teach a course on the things I wish I had known before entering my first year of college.

I would give anything to go back to freshman year, mostly because it was so much fun and the least stressful year of all four years, but also because there were opportunities coming out of my ears.

Take interesting courses
At my school, we have to take a certain amount of courses just to fill up our general education credits. So even if photography has nothing to do with your major, but it interests you, take an introductory course just for kicks.

Scope out free services
At most schools, part of your tuition payment includes free counseling. Go see a career counselor or just a therapist. Most schools offer these professionals to help college students make their way through school and they offer great advice. If you have no idea what you want to major in, go see a career counselor and they can test you on your interests and guide you.

Go to office hours
Office hours can simply save your grade. All teachers are required to hold office hours for students. GO TO THEM. This is a fabulous way to get on your teacher's good side and they can tutor you or go over a test you didn’t ace. When they are grading your next test, they will remember your extra efforts.

Look into study abroad programs
It’s true, studying abroad can cost an arm and a leg, but it doesn’t hurt to casually look into the programs offered. There are scholarships available as well as financial aid. The best time to go abroad is now! Explore!

Try out clubs and stick to one
At my school’s annual club fair, I signed up for just about everything. Go to the first meeting, see what it’s all about and find one or two that interest you and stick with it. Clubs are a great way to meet new people outside of class and it looks great on a resume that you were involved in different things.

Start from scratch
There is no queen bee in college. Don’t be afraid to reinvent yourself. People you would have never been friends with in high school could be your roommates. Give everyone a chance; many of my old friends from high school have completely changed and become totally different people and that’s perfectly OK!

Master the art of time management
This was one of the greatest lessons I learned. Mom and Dad aren’t under your skin anymore telling you what to do, so you choose how you live now. You can spend all your free time on Facebook or going out for a run or getting some homework done. Just remember college costs thousands of dollars and each individual class can cost a few hundred dollars. Some professors don’t have attendance policies and it isn’t for their benefit that you come to class, it’s for YOUR benefit.

Lastly, have fun! A lot of people would pay to go back to their college days. I have found that my four years of college have gone by faster than my four years in high school. Take pictures of every memory and have no regrets!

Image: scottchan / FreeDigitalPhotos.net

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