And just like that… I am a college graduate! Everyone says to enjoy your college experience because it goes by fast– wow, were they right! And graduating in three years made the past 1,095 days go by in the blink of an eye.
For the past several weeks, I have reflected on my amazing experience as a Hawkeye at The University of Iowa. I don’t know where I would be without the people I met, the knowledge I gained, and the once in a lifetime experiences I had.
Here are ten lessons I learned throughout my college experience and now are pieces of advice for any incoming or current college students! I hope you enjoy!
1. Make the most out of every day.
I thought this lesson was one I already knew, but college made it so much more prevalent. You have only a handful of years as an undergraduate, and then that part of your life is over, and your college years are unlike any other you will have. As a sentimental person, I realized I was spending too much time being upset by the “lasts” and not enough time soaking it all in. Enjoy every moment, whether it is late night football game with your friends or a walk to class on a beautiful day. Enjoy it all!
2. Go outside of your comfort zone.
College challenges you in so many ways aside from academics. Go outside of your comfort zone and embrace these challenges! Join an organization you might not have thought to join, branch out and make new friends, take the extra effort to make a connection with a professional on campus, apply for that internship you don’t think you could possibly get- just challenge yourself!
3. Listen to your gut.
While you should definitely push yourself outside your comfort zone, don’t forget to listen to that gut feeling, too. You have that feeling for a reason. It can be challenging to learn the difference between fear and an instinct, but do your best. Your gut instinct will save you in college.
4. Find friends who make you a better version of yourself.
I was once told that you become most like the five people you spend the most time with. When you think about it that way, it makes you value wonderful friendships even more. Spend time with people who you admire and who you would be proud to be like. Find friends that will help you grow and challenge you to always be the best version of yourself.
5. Invest in people who invest in you.
You meet so many people in college, whether you are at a big or small school. Most of the time, you don’t anticipate who you will become friends with; it just happens! Most of these friendships come from investments of time and heart. Spend time with those who care about you and take time out of their day to make you feel important. It doesn’t need to be, and most likely won’t be, constant attention. Everyone is busy– especially in college! But if you find someone who will take the time to wish you luck on a big exam you have coming up, or say congratulations when you land an internship, be sure to do the same for them in a genuine way. You never know when this type of action will create a beautiful friendship!
6. Take pictures, A LOT of them.
I am five days out of college and I am already returning back to all of the pictures I took, reminiscing on the memories. Not every picture needs to be Instagram-worthy, but capture the moments you will want to look back on, whether it was your favorite Friday afternoon coffee spot or a snuggling with your friends on a lazy day.
7. Eat, see, and try everything you can.
Try that quirky Mediterranean lunch place. Go to every coffee shop in town. Study in the cool building across campus, even if it is a long walk. Do it all while you can! Most of the time, the best finds aren’t the most popular finds. Explore!
8. Plan. And then go outside of your plan!
A bucket list is only a bucket list until you make it happen! I have always been a huge planner, but a planner of what needs to get done. One of the most important things I learned my last semester was to take time to plan the fun things too, especially when you have a bucket list in front of you! Plan it out, make it happen, but then don’t be afraid to be spontaneous, too. Put a plan in place to make sure you make it to every restaurant you want to or study in every space on campus you can, but then also keep your list on your phone and when you are feeling spontaneous, pull it up and get going!
9. Be creative with your college experience.
There are so many different ways to go about your college experience, starting from the very moment you step on campus. Between choosing how you get involved, where you spend your time, and what classes you take, the possibilities are endless and can be tailored to exactly what you love. Sure, there is set plan of classes you have to take to graduate, but there are also many creative, unadvertised paths you can take; it just takes some research. For example, this blog began as a project for me to graduate with honors in my major! My last semester of college, I got to completely create my own class and produce a blog, all on my own schedule! For me, that was so much more fun than taking another class, and it allowed me to really tie together all of the skills I had learned through our School of Journalism and Mass Communication. This wasn’t a required step towards my degree, but it was one I enjoyed so much and I am so happy found this option.
10. Be passionate!
Love your school and love your experience! You won’t get these years back, so be sure to love it with all of your heart! Not every day will be the best day, but when you look back, you want to know that it was some of the best years of your life. If you don’t love it, make a change. Get involved in a new organization, branch out and make new friends, or find a school you do feel passionately about.
I LOVE being a Hawkeye and I will forever be so thankful for my experience at The University of Iowa. I will miss game days at Kinnick, sipping on marshmallow lattes at Java House, the trek up to Carver in the winter, making memories in the 823, losing all of our voices during sorority recruitment, meeting amazing friends in my different organizations, having the opportunity to lead amazing groups of people, and so much more! If I could describe how I felt about my college experience in one word, it would be passionate. Iowa City, you will be missed.
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