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It’s that time of year again, the time when college students pack up their belongings and head back to campus for the year! It’s my favorite time of year, and I am lucky that I get to experience it year after year even though it’s been years since being a college student myself. For those of you heading to college (or have kids heading to college), I thought I’d pass along a bit of wisdom from someone who has witnessed many classes of students go through their years at college:

  1. Learn to use your “yes” and “no” wisely. Say no to the bad without fear of being mocked by your peers. Say yes to the healthy friendships and healthy decisions presented to you. Get involved, but use your “yes” and “no” wisely so you don’t get overwhelmed, too overcommitted, and miss out on all the good “yes” times you could be having! Own your reactions!
  2. Let go of the need for perfect. Way too many people I see lose out on so much that college has to offer because they are in the ever-losing pursuit of perfect. Don’t let the great things in life be ruined by the need for perfection. Learn to challenge those perfectionistic thoughts.
  3. Don’t be afraid to seek out the counseling center. These people see college students all day long, and will have seen and heard pretty much anything that you could throw their way at some point in the past. Even if you don’t have a “bad problem”, it’s a great place to sort through life questions and have someone to process things with.
  4. Don’t go on such an intense hunt for a relationship that you miss out on good friendships. Far too often I see people worry so much about trying to find that guy or girl that they don’t invest their energy in building strong friendships from the start. Invest in friendships from the start!
  5. Develop good strategies for dealing with stress. Put these into practice because college gets STRESSFUL.
  6. Don’t pull all nighters. Just don’t do it. It’s almost never a necessary thing. I can confidently say that every single time I saw someone pulling an all nighter in college, it was only because they had poor time management. Use your time well and get some sleep. A lack of sleep causes lots of negative things in our life (increased feelings of depression, decreased immunity, problems in relationships, etc…), so place a priority on that!
  7. Connect with great professors in your major. These professors are not only a great source of encouragement, but will be there to help connect you with people in the outside world or write those great references for grad school or jobs! I had two professors in particular that I talked to a good deal, and I still connect with them on a regular basis.
  8. Don’t place too high expectations on your friendships. This is one I see far too often, unfortunately. We have this idea that our friendships in college will last forever, so we want to make sure we make good ones. Sometimes this causes us to dismiss some of the great friendships we might have because they don’t seem like life-long friends! Please don’t do this! Connect with lots of people and build up lots of friendships to see which ones really take off. Sometimes it’s the friendships that you least expect that will carry through the years.
  9. Travel. Study Abroad. Go on work trips. Traveling and being in other countries helps us to process our own lives and the world really differently. College is a fantastic platform for traveling, so just do it!
  10. Don’t be afraid to try and fail. Our fear of failure can hold us back from trying all sorts of things in life, things that might change the course of our life in some way! It’s ok to fall down and stumble a bit; it’s how we learn and grow and become the people we’re meant to be!
  11. Be considerate of your roommates and treat people the way you want to be treated. Don’t give people a dose of their own medicine, and don’t try to get even. Treat your room and your space the way you would want your roommate to treat it. Be in good communication with your roommate, and don’t be passive aggressive. Good communication can save a lot of rooming headaches.
  12. Stay on top of your work. Procrastination is SO easy, but if you work little by little then nothing seems quite as overwhelming as if you’re pulling an all nighter (see #6).

Maybe I’ll write a “part 2” to this. When you spend most of your hours with college students you tend to learn quite a bit…

For now I want to hear from you! What are your best tips for college students? What’s one lesson you had to learn the hard way in college?