I graduated from college a month ago and even though my postgraduate life has just begun, I have realized that what I did over the course of the past four years can never be replicated. The point of this blog post is not to be nostalgic, but to share some advice for incoming or current college students. I will try not to sound cliché like every commencement speech you hear, but I will warn you that it is bound to happen at some point during this blog post. Hopefully, some college student will get something out of this, or at the very least provide enough material for my friends to make fun of me for a while.
The first thing you need to do in college is enjoy every moment. I know I am already breaking my rule of not sounding cliché, but this is something that I can easily say is my most important advice. Eventually, you will end up like me, a month into postgraduate life thinking WTF I am not heading back to school after a nice summer vacation. There will be no more house parties, final exam struggles and free time to hang out with a lot of cool people.
When I say enjoy every moment, I mean it. That all-nighter in the library that somehow helped you pass your course. Enjoy it. Going out despite having an 8:00am class the next day just to make sure that your buddy won’t be going out to the bar alone. Enjoy it. The terrible feeling you have the day after eating a shitty pizza pie at 3am because you had the drunchies. Enjoy it. These are just some of the lowlight college experiences that in the short run sound miserable, but when you look back on them you will laugh and smile.
Do as Much as you can with Your Free Time
You will never have as much free time as you do in college (unless your unemployed), so use your time wisely. I know there is an urge to play video games or BS on the computer during your free time, but my recommendation is to use this time towards learning a new skill or finding out what interests you. I came up with the idea for Campus Taps (now defunct) in a Spanish class during my sophomore year and while it may sound like a juvenile idea to an adult, I felt that there was a need for this tool at a bar school like the school I attended.
Instead of playing a shit ton of FIFA and NCAA Football, I decided to use my time to learn various programming languages (nerd alert). The more and more I got involved in the project, the more I enjoyed watching the project grow and the more rewarding my free time felt. Not only was it an experience that has let me develop valuable skills, but by showing my entrepreneurial spirit on my resume, I was able to land an internship going into my junior year with Thrillist Media Group (Thrillist/JackThreads), as well as my senior year with Crowdtap, a company which made Forbes Magazine’s 100 Most Promising Companies of 2013.
I’m not saying go out and start a company, but you should figure out what interests you and roll with it. Research as much as you can about your interests and figure out a way to make that into a career. I suggest that you figure this out before the end of your four years so you wont be feeling stuck in a job position and industry that you will end up hating.
Use your Resources
Despite being young, I feel that I can comfortably say that you will never have as many resources at your disposal than during your time at college. Exclusive learning opportunities, studying abroad and job recruitment are just a few resources among hundreds of other offerings that make college a unique time in a person’s life.
My advice is to take advantage of everything there is to offer. Check out that free lecture on campus even though it might sound lame. Develop a relationship with your favorite professors. Go to the Career Center and have them check out your resume. All of these things might sound lame and uncool, but these resources can become extremely useful when entering postgraduate life.
Be Open-Minded and Have No Regrets
Above all, go through your time as an undergraduate with an open mind and have no regrets. During my four years this was my attitude and it is amazing how many doors this has opened in my life. When you look back on your four years, the experiences you had were a result of your attitude and outlook starting from day one as a freshman.
Put yourself out there and learn from your mistakes. Real life is less forgiving of stupid things, so my suggestion is to go out with no regrets and do stupid things (within reason). Dance like an idiot at the bar dressed as a cat, shotgun a Four Loko and do a bunch of bath salts…DON’T DO BATH SALTS.
In the end, college is what you make of it and I hope that some of the lessons that I learned from my college experience can help someone with their journey. A lot of people leave college looking back with regret or feeling overwhelmingly nostalgic, and I can say that I feel neither of those qualities. I feel like I made the most of my time at school and always look forward to the next day putting the past behind me.