I can’t believe I’m saying this, but I’m graduating from college in THREE DAYS! How crazy is that?! My four years at UWO flew by way too fast. But before I leave this fantastic place, I thought I’d leave behind a few pieces of advice for anyone who might be nervous about graduating from high school, transferring from a different university, moving away from home, or just starting from scratch at your new 4-and-sometimes-more-year home.
1. Find your people, but don’t forget to stay true to yourself.
You’re going to meet some of the best friends of your life in college, and as exciting and fantastic as that is, it’s important to also be your own person. If there is an event you really want to go to or a club you really want to join, don’t let the fact that your friends don’t want to go with you hold you back. Do things with your friends as a group, but remember that it’s okay to do things by yourself, too.
2. Go to campus events.
I can’t emphasize this enough! I wish I had gone to see more speakers, comedians, concerts, movies, etc. There are always cool things happening on any given night on campus, and they are usually free! That doesn’t happen often outside of college. Take advantage of it while you can.
3. Try to get an on-campus job.
One of the main things I’ll talk about when I reminisce on my college years is my job in the Admissions Office. From flexible hours to fun times with fellow student employees, on-campus jobs are a great way to make money, make valuable connections and get some great experience, maybe even in the field you want to go into! In my case, I’ve now had two years of relevant work experience, which is making things so much easier during my job search!
4. Be open to new things.
Just because you’ve never done something before doesn’t mean you shouldn’t try it, right? Take interesting classes, try new food, study abroad, join clubs, play new sports…you don’t have to do it all, but at least be open to the idea of new things. Don’t ever turn down an opportunity because it’s not something you’re used to. College is all about getting outside of your comfort zone every once in a while!
5. Keep a level head.
College can be stressful sometimes. But when it’s 2 a.m. during finals week and you’re in the library studying for two exams and still need to finish a research paper, it’s best to stay calm and get some sleep. Some nights, I was up really late, which made me even more stressed, and I realized that going to bed was usually the very best thing I could do. Yes, there will be a few all-nighters, but in order to keep your sanity in during stressful times in college, you need to keep a level head.
6. Get to know your professors.
Your first few years of college, it’s nice to have good relationships with your professors so you feel comfortable reaching out to them for help with coursework. But during your last year of college, professors can be extremely helpful when you’re looking for jobs. If you got to know them well enough over the years, you could use them as references, they could recommend you for job/internship opportunities, and more. Professors are awesome.
7. Apply for scholarships.
It’s no secret that going to college isn’t cheap. Luckily, there are tons of scholarships available if you just look for them! It literally takes 10 minutes to an hour to fill out most scholarship applications, which could result in hundreds or thousands of dollars toward your college tuition. FREE MONEY, people! It’s so easy and you will be so thankful to have taken advantage of scholarships down the road when you (hopefully) don’t have as many student loans to pay off!
8. Join clubs, organizations and teams.
The thing I am most bummed about is that I wasn’t even more involved on campus than I already was. I was in two clubs and played on an intramural team for a bit, but I wish I would have had on-going connections with more clubs and organizations. I wish I would have played intramural basketball and joined Speaker Series. Go to Taste of Oshkosh during your first week on campus and find out what’s out there for you! Join things. Trust me.
9. Explore your new home.
The more you get out and do things in the area around campus, the more things will start to feel like home. You’re not just starting fresh at a new school, but you’re starting over in a new city, too! Every city has its own unique shops, restaurants, events, cafes, etc. Get out and discover them! Oshkosh’s Main Street is only about a 10-minute walk from campus…and it also happens to be one of my favorite places in the world! I find new things every time I go there. 🙂
10. Don’t be scared.
I know this is easy for me to say as I’m sitting here about to graduate, but trust me. I wish I could have reassured my 18-year-old self of this! I’ve been in your shoes and I understand the nervous feelings you probably have about starting college. But if you go into it with the mindset that it’s going to be an exciting new adventure rather than a scary new experience, you’ll have a much easier time transitioning and a much more enjoyable time overall. You can do this!
If you have any uncertainties or questions about college, don’t hesitate to message me on my Facebook page, Jenna at UWO. I’d love to chat with you! In the meantime, get ready, future Titans. You’re about to have the time of your life. I know I did. 🙂