Philadelphia, PA, USA

7 Things I Wish I Knew Before College

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I get it, college is tough. I still don’t believe college is for everyone. As someone who originally dropped out for five years and went back at a much later age, I definitely have more experience than most. Especially more so since,
if you may not know already, I did my bachelor’s degree a 4 to 5-year degree, in just 2 years! Today I’m going to run through some things I wish I knew about college before I ever entered the first time around at 18 years old

1. Don't use a basic adviser. 

They don't know you. They will give you what you should generally take. I suggest scheduling time with a trusted teacher to help you choose your classes.

If you’re new, try to cooperate with the adviser as best as possible, but if you can’t ask questions if you can do your own research and add classes that you want at a later date. The one thing I don’t regret is trusting myself. I’m glad I took my Japanese classes and put my all into them when I just didn’t feel ready for general education requirements at 18. This is where having someone you trust to guide you in taking courses comes in. Because maybe instead of taking that math or English course you need, you can take something else that fills a requirement but is also a fun class. 

Basic advisers will always tell you how to do things the same way they’re telling everyone else that’s in your situation, your degree, or your undecided nature. It’s step-by-step BORING! I pray that you receive someone you can get along with, and that says a lot considering I don’t pray. 

2. Take classes you think you will enjoy but ALSO count towards a requirement you need. 

Going back to what I briefly stated in number 1. Say for instance you need a history class, you can take the history of rock and roll, or a woman's history course. 

Schools offer a variety of courses that may interest you and will count towards your degree. The thing is, they won’t tell you everything so you have to do your own research also. This way you're not wasting money or time or setting yourself back by taking classes that don't fit. 

It's also totally okay to be undecided and take whatever your basic adviser is telling you, but you may not be performing to your 100% self if you were in a class that you’d be passionate about. For example, my degree required 12 credits worth of a language course, thankfully my Japanese classes somewhat transferred and somewhat didn’t to my new school. The credits seemed to have shrunk when transferring, and I had to take an additional 2 courses in Japanese.

3. You have to be on top of all your own shit. 

Understand the know-how of your own transcripts. Understand your own concept of your loans, tuition, money, if you don't understand it, find someone who does. I always found that going straight to the head of the source usually helped. They know the most but see, in advance, if the head of that department is nice even. 

The one at Penn State I found the assistants always knew less and were bitchy and grouchy all the time, but the head knew the most and she was super nice. 

But if you're not on top of things, no one will do it for you and you'll be handed a big fat "Oh well not my problem," if you weren't on top of it. Which makes so many more problems in trying to work around and fix shit.

4. Drop the class! 

If you don't like a class for whatever reason, the teacher, your failing, you don't understand it, you changed your mind, etc., etc. Do not just stop showing up. Drop it! 

Put in the add/drop notice, do it online, whatever it takes. 

If you stop showing up, the teacher won't do it for you. Read that again! Take responsibility, you're legally an adult now. This is the way they're looking at you. If you just stop showing up, it'll go on your academic record and may land you in some hot water, such as academic probation. That's pretty hard to shake off. 

Trust me no one is judging you for dropping. I remember at 18-19, when I was forced into a community college, I thought people were going to judge me for dropping pretty much all of my classes. Though honestly, I don’t think they care because they have their own stuff going on. They might explain to you what may happen next if you drop below a certain point of classes, but they won’t care, it was me, my head, and I that were so self-conscious about it. 

You're doing yourself the favor if you just get it over with. After that whole scenario and the shit that went down in number 5, I dropped classes many times just because I didn't mesh well with the teacher. 

But again, at 18 I had the experience at my old school where I didn't drop it, they didn't drop me, and they flunked me. I ended up on academic probation. I honestly thought they were going to drop me from the class themselves but they won't. They have other things to do. 

5. The teacher makes the class! 

I can't breathe enough life into this one. I always asked other students how they felt about a particular teacher. I got a list of good teachers from other students. I used ratemyprofessors to look up teachers all the time, also! It’s really important. Teachers can be biased too, unfortunately. 

For example, my sisters’ had problem teachers that no matter what they said or did, that teacher just didn’t like them. I remember I had that same problem as well in high school, unfortunately, I went to a school that my one sister attended also. Therefore, when the teachers’ found out I was attending, and my sister was one of their favorite students, I didn’t live up to their expectations. Therefore, they were very biased towards me and treated me very unfairly. But in college, you have control over who to take as a teacher, most of the time. 

Storytime

I was in one math class that the professor didn't know how to teach. He was a nice guy, but he never explained his teaching. He just did it. No homework and the tests made you look at it like, “WTF is this we never learned this.” Because he barely taught in general. He made me feel stupid, but because I just came back to school I felt weird dropping a class so early on. I tried to stick it out, but I ended up failing and having to retake the class anyway. Thankfully, the teacher I retook the class with, she had you do homework, answered all your questions, gave you tips, tricks, you name it! She made my life easier. She actually taught me one of the basic ways I know how to study better thanks to her today! I passed her class with flying colors; while I was a borderline C in the other guy’s class.

6. Make connections with everyone, even teachers and staff! 

Honestly, when I first re-entered school, I honestly thought I was going to go to school, and go home, do my homework and that’s that. Just be serious, no hanky panky, none of that extra shit. When I told people that, my first semester, people gave me a, “Umm okay,” type of stare. And later I realized why. The thing I was missing most, that first semester, was connections. You can’t get anywhere in life without some type of help or connections. Help others, and they will help you in return. This is the time in your life you have to take seriously to some extent, but also know when to give yourself a break, know when to make connections, know how to have boundaries, know when to have fun, etc. 

On this note, if you partake in the events, the amount of free shit you’re going to get. Free merch, food, you name it, my school also did escape rooms, they hired a psychic the one time, so many different themed events. I learned how to create my own notebook once, and I still own it. It’s really dope!

7. Just because you graduate with a certain degree doesn’t mean you have to do that thing for the rest of your life. 

Let’s face it already, people have layers! And as someone with layers, things change, interests change, and jobs and careers shift. I’ve met many professionals after I went back to college that mentioned that they graduated in finance but didn’t work in finance any longer or never did. What matters is not the degree, but that you finished something.

It honestly doesn’t even matter what your GPA is anymore. Employers don’t ask, I’ve never met anyone in the new age world that asks. GPA is more so for those who want to continue pursuing their education after a bachelor’s degree, and if you’re not and just want to show up for yourself every day I say GO YOU! DO YOU! 

On the flip side, if you want to change your major even halfway through, do it. So many people do, even though I didn’t change my major while I was in school, the amount of times I changed my path outside of school is relentless. That being said, I know people and have friends that have changed to completely different majors five different times, it’s insane, but it happens. It’s normal, you’re not expected to follow through on what you thought you were going to be in grade school, high school, or even now. It’s okay to change your mind!

Wrapping it up!

This just about sums up the 7 things I wish I knew before college. I didn’t want to do another long post as I did with my 13 brutal truths you need to finish college in one piece, but I did want to talk about things I wish I knew at 17-18. 

Prior to entering community college at 18, I actually attended bartending school and had yet another taste of, “What the fuck is my life?” Did I ever mention that it was my mom that forced me into bartending school also? I think I did somewhere, but I don’t remember, needless to say, it wasn’t easy. 

All my best learning, personally, was done during the time I wasn’t a student. It wasn’t until I went to a 4-year college after 5 years, with the knowledge I had, that helped me in succeeding. Even now, learning is a constant process. Whether you’re personally developing yourself as a person, or learning a new skill, hobby, or task in your own life. You don’t need an institution to learn, and also, you don’t need to go to college for everything. I know some really successful people who did a trade skill and some others that are completely self-taught and never had a “proper” education at all. You don’t have to be a YouTuber, it’s possible, it’s just hard, but everything in life is. That makes it more worth it, so cliche I know, but with that being said I’ll leave this here.

Question of the day

  • If you’re a freshman in college this year, what’s one thing that made you surprised already?
  • If you’re done school, what’s one thing you wish you knew about college before you entered?
7 things i wish i knew before college

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