Things to Know Before You go to CollegeIt’s hard to know exactly what to expect before you get to college.  There are so many new challenges to meet and things to discover that it is impossible to consider them all.  Having a roommate, being on your own for probably the first time in your life, meeting grade and coursework requirements, and being harnessed with the financial obligations needed to fund your education can make preparing for and starting college seem like a whirlwind event.  There are a few things you might not know about though that are important to understand in order to successfully navigate the path to your new educational career. 

No one wakes you up for class and no one reminds you when to go to bed.

Unless you have a roommate or someone else on your dorm hall who is an early riser, you will most likely have to ensure you get up in time to get to class.  Make sure you set an alarm clock to give yourself enough time to ready yourself for the day.  The good thing about the college environment is that you’ll quickly find other students are just as relaxed about things as you are.  You’ll see fellow students in sweat pants, wearing hats to cover bed-heads, and sometimes still wearing pajama pants. 

This doesn’t negate the fact that your time is now your own, and only you can make decisions as to how best to utilize and manage it.  Procrastination is no longer an option, and if you find it is, be prepared for the consequences.  Skipping out on class, turning in assignments late, delaying study sessions, staying up late, and missing exams are the quickest ways to turn your new career at college into a distant memory.

Mom isn’t managing your healthcare anymore

Often, one of the most difficult transitions to make when starting college away from home is that of hygiene and self-maintenance.  While you might go home for summer breaks where mom is waiting to schedule your eye, dental, hair, and doctor’s appointments, no one is there at school to schedule your health maintenance or pick up your prescriptions for you.  If there is a problem or you come down with an extreme illness, it is up to you to get yourself to the school health center or local emergency care.  Delaying such trips may not only cost you dearly in missed classes and assignments, and create severe health problems, but can affect those around you as well, since you might be spreading your sickness to others.   

College is short, sweet, and over way too quick

College is a special time in many a young person’s life.  For some it isn’t the grand experience many make it out to be, but for the majority, it is a new and exciting time in which to explore independence, make lifelong friends, and take the first steps toward building a career.  It is easy to loose sight of these beneficial and positive aspects of college life when you are burdened with more reading than you can handle, have quizzes and exams almost every day, are subsisting off microwave noodles, and are paying bucket loads of money just to be there. 

It is important to remember that during these times of high stress and low rewards, that these are the days you’ll likely look back upon with fond memories.  Sure, it’s tough.  If college was easy, it wouldn’t take years to complete, and everyone would have a degree.  This might lead you to wonder if it might  just be easier to go out and get a job, start making some money, and be done with the whole college thing altogether.  But remember, there is more to college than just the classroom learning. 

College is an experience.  It is a way to grow into yourself, to learn how to be independent, meet new people, acquire social and networking skills, and become your own person.  College will be over soon enough, and when you find yourself grinding away in a career with no Saturday night parties to attend, no afternoon naps between classes, and failing a ‘test’ means loosing your job, you might realize just how good you had it back in school.   

College doesn’t get you a job — you do.

This last tip is one that might not hit home until you are preparing to graduate.  As you begin your job search and start interviewing with companies, you’ll quickly find that there is a lot of competition out there.  With many jobs, an education alone won’t be enough to secure you a position.  Sitting on your hands and waiting for a company to come and ask you to work for them probably isn’t going to cut it.  You’ll likely have to be proactive in your job hunt, put yourself out there, do a little self-promoting, and be willing to risk rejection.  Utilize your networking skills, interview or informational sessions offered through various schools within the university, and career sessions with company recruiters. 

It is also important to realize that the sooner you can face up to the fact that rejection is just a reality of life, the quicker you can move along to find the job that fits you best.  No matter how much you want to work with a particular employer, you must bear in mind that there are always other fish in the sea.  Moreover, while initially you might not be accepted for a position with the company of your dreams, that doesn’t mean that down the road you won’t have a chance at employment with them.  It can be tough to receive that first rejection letter or phone call informing you the employer has gone in a different direction with their hiring, but such incidents can build character, commitment, and strengthen your resolve.