9 Invaluable Life Lessons I Learned in College


It has almost been three years since I reluctantly said goodbye to the University of Arizona. Unlike many of my classmates, I didn't want to celebrate graduation at all. Everything I'd heard about the real world was awful whereas life felt so easy and pleasant in college (it certainly didn't hurt that Tucson got more than 300 days of sunshine a year), and I wanted to remain a student forever.

Of course, real life wasn't as scary as I'd assumed, and I was ready to take it on with everything I'd learned in school. Here are some of the invaluable things I got out of my college experience, which was unforgettable, to say the least.

1. You can't have blueberry scones five days a week once college ends, so eat up while you still can

So, funny story: I was a disgusting pig in college, at least in my last two years. Every morning before class, I had a large blueberry scone and medium coffee with cream and sugar followed by Papa John's pizza sticks with my school newspaper coworkers in the afternoon. No one seemed to care that I ate so poorly back then, as it's expected of college kids, but after you collect your degree and go forth into the world, you need to have somewhat healthy dietary habits, so embrace junk food while it's still socially acceptable. 

2. How to make friends (organically)

During my first week of freshman year, I called my older brother in tears. He'd liked everything about college and raved about the experience throughout my youth, so when I didn't love it after a week, I knew I needed some advice. I wasn't making any friends in my hall, which was populated by bubble-eyed sorority pledges from Beverly Hills and ritzy Scottsdale, but my brother assured me I could find the right group by putting myself out there.

I didn't follow his suggestion to walk around the residence hall with my pet fish and introduce myself to everyone in sight, but I did keep calm, and eventually, I met people I really got along with. Once I decided to chill out and not worry so much about becoming BFFs with my fellow classmates, I started getting to know exceptional, like-minded folks. You can't force friendships. They have to develop naturally.

3. It's not the end of the world if you don't end up with your college sweetheart

Sorry, guys, but not everyone gets to have the William and Kate story. Almost all the couples I knew split up after graduation. Don't stress too much if you don't think you and your significant other will be able to handle the post-grad life changes ahead. You're going to meet a lot of awesome people in the workforce and beyond, and you two can always pick up where you left off later on down the road if it feels right.

4. It doesn't hurt to befriend your professors

You never know when you may need a recommendation, to miss class for a personal emergency, or a mentor of sorts. Besides, your professors do a lot more for you than you realize. Show some appreciation!

5. Naps are awesome but screw up your sleeping schedule

As much as I miss my afternoon naps, I don't miss all the bad dreams and sleeping issues that accompanied them. I'm relieved I don't have time for siesta anymore.

6. How to negotiate for classes

I went to a big public university, where courses filled up quickly and graduating in four years was more of a goal than a realistic expectation. I can't tell you how many times I begged professors to make room for me in their classes, and I even lobbied for the university to create another math class because of the course's lack of availability.

I hated dealing with this kind of nonsense at the beginning of almost every semester, when I had plenty of other things on my plate, but the nuisance taught me how to fight for myself in the real world, and talking to college administration building employees is much easier than trying to discuss my taxes with a jaded government worker.

7. College aged boys are the worst breed of human (but they do get better after graduation!)

I'll admit that's a hyperbole, but college boys are just that: boys, and they're at their most immature in these years. I used to regret that I never dated anyone seriously in school, but I've been much more impressed and less bitter post-graduation, when men are a bit more subdued and willing to actually, you know, make an effort.

8. Your college friends are your friends for life

Maybe not all of them, but some of these folks will get you through adulthood just as they got you through college. Instead of supporting you after that cad stops returning your phone calls, your friends will offer an open ear (or G-chat window) when you need to vent about work or the like post-graduation. Cling to the people you really connect with in college. 

9. You don't have to be involved with Greek life to enjoy college

But going to frat parties can be really fun!