The biggest lessons I learned from college
Back when I was graduating high school I wrote a blog post called: 10 lessons I learned graduating High school. I wanted to give an update because going to college is an experience that definitely expands your mind. While I do believe college isn't the best fit for everyone or every career path, I do believe going to college, especially going to one best suited for you can allow a large impact and guide your life in a way that's unexpected
1. Strategy is the most important thing to keep things manageable for you
During my first semester of college, I made the rookie mistake of choosing classes solely based on time. My schedule was packed, with classes three days a week, each lasting three hours. As a commuter school, my college had few options for class times, with certain Gen ed courses lasting four hours and sometimes split into two times a week. I had the same class back-to-back on Mondays, with Statistics from 8:10 am to 10 am, followed by the lab from 10:10 am to 12 pm, and then Macroeconomic from 12:10 pm to 3 pm. Running from the 10th floor of the "B building" to the 3rd floor of the "A building" and having no time to eat, I was constantly exhausted. It only got a little better on Wednesdays, with my fashion business management class from 11:10 am to 1 pm, followed by marketing from 2 pm to 5 pm, but I still had to rush to finish classwork for my Thursday class. Thursdays were my best days, with a large break between my digital layouts course from 9 am to 12 pm and my computer class to teach how to use Microsoft programs from 2 pm to 5 pm. Despite these challenges, I ended the semester with a 3.17 GPA.
After that, I learned from my mistakes and made schedules with a friend who helped me become more organized with selecting classes, researching professors, and balancing my workload. I also made sure to never have classes back-to-back and to take online courses with great reviews. With these changes, I was able to finish college with a 3.73 GPA, four minors, one associate's degree, and one bachelor's degree, totaling 156 credits. While it may sound like a lot, I was selective in the minors I chose, including design thinking to showcase my creative abilities, economics to understand finances and business factors, and personal finance for my own personal growth.
2. No matter the circumstances, your health should be at the top of your priorities list
During my college experience, I faced some unique challenges due to spending two and a half semesters at home. I wasn't initially concerned about the "Freshman 15" warning from my high school economics teacher since I planned to commute and bring food from home. However, my habits changed, and I ended up eating from vending machines during my first semester and living a very sedentary lifestyle when working from home during the second, third, and fourth semesters.
I didn't notice the physical changes in myself until I had to go outside to get the vaccine shot, and I realized that my body had changed significantly. I went from a size 6/8 in jeans to 12/14 jeans, medium to XL/0XL/1XL, C cup to DD cup, and 120 lbs to 155 lbs. It wasn't about the look of it but the fact that I couldn't fit into my clothes, didn't know how to dress my new body and had to figure out what to do with all the clothes I bought for college and didn't even get to wear. It felt like a loss of identity to me to experience that change.
It was new territory for me to try to take care of my health because in high school I did whatever method was fastest and it was easy to partake in bad habits when you were so depressed to the point you were frequently pulled out of class to be in the guidance office. I wasn't a miserable kid anymore and I knew I had to handle my health the right way- no skipping meals, no crazy restrictions to only eat certain foods, no sleeping to miss meals, etc.
I went to monthly checkups, created my own rules, and did so much recipe testing. I haven't lost weight, in fact, I gained some, but I fit better in my clothes, I am able to work out for 1-2 hrs a day, I enjoy movement again to a point it doesn't feel like a chore, I cook what I am craving, I feel energized most days, I got better at intuitively eating and not binging and I overall found a balance between the girl who neglects her food needs and the girl who over-indulged after being constricted.
I regret not spending the pandemic on top of my overall health and now that I am a work-from-home girly once again, I am making sure I don't make the same mistakes with my health.
3. Speaking of priorities, it is crucial to have friends with the same priorities and core values as you
The people you come across are either for life or for lessons, it’s either someone shows you what you need more of on a friendship level or someone teaches you what boundaries you should uphold so situations don’t repeat themselves.
You are going to meet many types of friends in your lifetime. There will also be friends who you are friends with because you share similar interests, friends you grew up with because your parents were close, and friends from your circumstances (like growing up in the same religious group, going to the same school, having similar friends, disliking the same people) and so much more examples.
As you grow up, you gain and lose interest in hobbies, you lose things in common with people the more you grow, and the places you had in common become more relevant to the past. You’ll become friends with people who also are sharing your current interests and even that’s subject to change. Who you are today won’t necessarily be the same as you tomorrow and the people you have the strongest connections with are the people who share your core values and priorities.
The person who values a peaceful and consistent life won’t understand a person who loves a spontaneous and surprising lifestyle.
A person who loves to wake up early morning and sleep early won’t have much time to do things with a person who wakes up in the late evening and thrives in nightlife activities.
The person who needs to be out all the time surrounded by people will see the people who need a quieter and more individual form of relaxing as boring.
Those are just examples that I’ve seen most commonly in conversations about how people are “supposed to be in their 20s”. I don’t think there is a right way but a way that is right for the individual. As my journey unfolds I learn about what I value most.
Some of my beliefs are as follows:
If you closely at what I said: my beliefs center around honesty, integrity, accountability, understanding, the ability to compromise, respect, effort, etc. There are other things I strongly believe in but these are just the themes that show up in my examples.
Something I really value the most is creating a life that makes me happy, fulfilled, and financially free. The actions for this may vary but at my core, this is the most important thing to me and there are parts that are more specific to accomplish. I am a very ambitious person and maybe my dreams are “delusional” but at this moment I have unshakable faith in myself and my abilities. I don’t need friends/ people in my life that break down my beliefs or make me feel shitty for believing. I want to be around people who have awareness of all the low and unfair things in life (aka having awareness about things outside of themselves), but still work and make the effort to make their personal life better so maybe they can actually contribute to making the world better. We can’t pour from empty cups and if our foundation is rocky we’ll fall apart.
4. Intentions and potential mean nothing without actions and credibility
As a retired chronic people pleaser and a certified hopeless romantic, whether someone was platonic or romantic interest, I saw something in them without seeing if their actions fit the description. It wasn’t fair because I eventually realized I was putting my own expectations on them by seeing them who they could be instead of seeing them for who they are.
Once you realize that the only person that you can see actions from is you, it changes how you function in life. It makes you take off the rose-tinted glasses so you can see the red flags. It makes you set boundaries and turns into taking action for the things you intend to see more of.
Don’t ignore what’s in front of you for what possibly can happen because that is how people get into situations that are harder to get out of after a long period of time ( a relationship, a job, a living situation, etc.). I’m also not saying to judge people instantly either. Get to know someone, if they don’t do something you like, don’t hesitate to talk to them about it because anyone who cares about you would want to understand you and find out why they do the thing that you don’t like (because even if it is something that bothers you, it may come across differently to someone else who is experiencing life a lot differently from you). Once you have a conversation and find a possible ground (whether it’s a compromise or not), if they do it again and it’s something that they know firmly crosses a boundary for you, you don’t need to stay.
People can say that there’s a lot on their minds or that they “forgot”, but I think people who really care about you make an effort even if they are forgetful people. I’m a forgetful person myself and an overthinker so for the people important to me, I keep a list of their likes, dislikes, birthdays, and things important to them. Not because I have to but I just think of I see people being in my life for a long time, I would want to remember the details about them.
5. You don’t owe anyone an explanation for the things you don’t want to do or can’t do
This is more for my people who feel guilty when saying no to going out with friends. It can be awkward especially if your friends aren’t in the same economic class as you or don’t understand the changes you want to make in your life. You don’t have to explain when you don’t want to do certain activities and if they pressure you to feel like you have to, just remember no is a full sentence.
Your needs, your ideas of fun, and what you actually want to say yes to are all up to you. Don’t feel guilty for not wanting to or can’t do what everyone else is doing. Only explain yourself if you believe it is necessary because it is a waste of energy to spend so much time worrying about people's reactions to the boundaries you are placing for your well being especially if you set that boundary with kindness and respect.
6. Adaptability doesn’t mean you have to change who you are at your core
Your environment can have a lot of influence. Going from High school to college has really opened my eyes to how sensitive I can be to other people's energy. Moving deeper into adulthood, I am very much aware this is the time in my life when I will have to have new jobs, maybe move states or countries for work, attend events to grow my network, having opportunities to become the person I want to be which involves a lot of movement and constantly being out of my comfort zone.
In the 3rd lesson, I spoke about core values and beliefs and I just want to remind you those things don’t change regardless of your environment. It is important to recognize which parts of your identity are unshakeable. Be open to new things and adapt certain aspects of who you are so you can make the most of the experience but don’t lose yourself in the process. Some parts of you are meant to stay because those are the things that create your perception and unique experience.
7 . Just because you know something, doesn’t mean it’s common knowledge and as long as people are choosing to learn that means something
This lesson serves as a reminder that people come from all types of backgrounds and what you may think is common sense or a norm just might not be. I think sometimes we get so caught up in our perceptions that we forget that it’s unique. Of course, some perceptions may be detrimental to others well being, and in that case, we have to address things even if it is controversial. Also, some people with differences are still willing to learn and that means something.
In today's world, it is essential to be aware of the fact that people come from diverse backgrounds and have different life experiences. What might seem like common sense or a norm to one person, may not be the same for another. It is crucial to recognize and respect these differences while also being aware of perceptions that may be harmful to others.
Sometimes we get so caught up in our perceptions that we forget that they are unique and may not be applicable to everyone. It's important to remember that there is no one-size-fits-all approach to life and that everyone has their own unique journey. By acknowledging and embracing our differences, we can create a more inclusive and understanding environment.
While it can be difficult to confront controversial issues, it's important to address them in order to create a more welcoming and tolerant society. We must be willing to have open and honest conversations about the issues that affect us all. In doing so, we can learn from one another and gain a deeper understanding of the world around us.
It's also crucial to remember that even if someone has a different perspective or experience, they can still be willing to learn and grow. By being open to different perspectives and experiences, we can broaden our understanding of the world and become more empathetic individuals. It's essential to remain curious and open-minded and to seek out new experiences and perspectives whenever possible.
8. Learn how to advocate for yourself
Learning how to advocate for yourself is an essential life skill that can help you navigate various aspects of your personal and professional life. Advocating for yourself means being able to communicate your needs, boundaries, and priorities effectively. This skill is particularly important in academic and professional environments where you need to be able to speak up for yourself to achieve your goals and advance your career.
Advocating for yourself involves being assertive and confident in asserting your needs and boundaries. It means being able to express your opinions, ideas, and perspectives in a clear and concise manner. When you advocate for yourself, you are taking control of your life and your experiences, and ensuring that your voice is heard.
In academic and professional settings, advocating for yourself can help you achieve your goals and advance your career. For example, if you are a student, advocating for yourself can help you communicate your needs and concerns to your professors or advisors. This can help you get the support you need to succeed academically, such as accommodations for a disability or help with time management. In a professional setting, advocating for yourself can help you advance your career by communicating your needs and goals to your supervisor or manager. This can help you get the support you need to succeed in your role, such as training or mentorship. It can also help you negotiate for a promotion or raise, or address workplace issues that are impacting your productivity or well-being.
Most importantly for my people pleasers, this is essential to not being taken advantage of. Mini storytime:
I had a situation towards the end of my time in college where they posted a role where they mentioned compensation was per hour and when I was going to get the job, they were only paying me per article a small amount. Internships like that and unpaid internships should be illegal because they prey on students. Every person who is doing something as work deserves financial compensation especially if they want you to take money out of your pocket to work from them.
Thank you for reading and if you have anything you want to see more of, be sure to comment with suggestions or email me. Remember to subscribe to my Youtube channel, and follow my Tik Tok, Instagram, and Twitter to connect and stay up to date. I am excited about my next blog post so make sure you come back. Until then, there’s a lot more content on my YouTube channel. I hope you have a good day, evening, or night.
Until next time,
xoxo Lay 💋