10 Life Lessons College Has Taught Me So Far

A sophomore shares the top lessons college teaches you, from balancing your life in college, to dealing with heartbreak, and more.
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A sophomore shares the top lessons college teaches you, from balancing your life in college, to dealing with heartbreak, and more.
Go Badgers!

My friends and I painted our stomachs for the Badger Game!

For my final blog here on College Fashion, I’ve decided to write about something a bit different: what I've learned in college so far.

The main purpose of this particular blog is to help readers younger than myself - there is so much to learn in college that it's helpful to hear from someone who has been there already! College has really forced me to grow up, so I thought I'd share some of my experiences and focus on the college part of College Fashion. Enjoy!

1. It’s OK to change your major.

I have changed my major twice now, from history to retailing, and now back to history. I think that this was an important part of learning what I want to do with my life. I had always wanted to try retailing, but I tried it and it wasn’t for me. Had I not tried it, I always would have wondered. Now I am volunteering with kids and in a major that I love. Finding out who you are is part of what college is all about.

2. Don't be afraid to make mistakes - that's how you learn!

Freshman year was great and I have a really amazing group of friends to prove it. However, I will say that I did a lot of things back then that now make me say “what was I thinking?” I've realized that’s OK. That’s what freshman year is for: to test the waters and make mistakes. (See: the best things about your freshman year of college.) Your friends will stick by you through everything, and you will grow as a person because of it.

My first year of college

My very first night in Madison as a freshman.

3. The best remedy for heartbreak is spending time with your best friends.

“I was so lost back then, but with a little help from my friends, I’ve seen the light at the tunnel at the end” is one of my favorite lyrics. I'm sure most of you know it from the Lily Allen song, but "Smile" always reminds me of the Glee episode where they are learning to smile for the yearbook photo. (Yes, I am a “Gleek,” and I embrace it fully.) Either way, that lyric is totally true.

I don't want to get TOO detailed here, but let's just say my roommates have stood by me through every boy problem I have had. They've helped me through it all, made me see that I can do so much better, and have helped me believe that I can someday find the kind of person I DO want to be with. Friends are the BEST remedy for a broken heart. Boys may come and go, but your friends will always be there for you through it all.

Aside from leaning on your friends, there's always retail therapy. When I was going through some boy problems, let's just say the new Forever 21 opened at the perfect time. And I’ll leave it at that. The moral of this story: instead of blasting “All by Myself” and laying in bed, you should get out, see the glass as half-full, and spend time with the people who love you.

4. Find your ideal study method.

Thanks to my psychology professor freshman year, I’ve found the exam studying method that works best for me. First, I go through my notes and write open-ended questions that correspond to my notes. Then, using my notes, I answer all the questions in full sentences like I am taking an open-notes short answer test. Then I rewrite the questions and answer them again without the notes. This way, I can see what I remember well and what I need to study again. I swear by it and I got an A in psychology to prove it.

However, my study method won't work for everyone or every subject. We all learn in different ways, and we all have different methods that will work best for us. The point is to find out: What type of learner are you? I am a very visual person and writing things out and seeing them in question form really helps me. Learn how you study best and stick to it for success!

5. Take care of your health, and you won’t gain weight.

Yay for not gaining the freshman 15! My health is a priority, and I follow what I like to call “the lifestyle change.” The lifestyle change is how I keep myself healthy without using the word “diet.” I hate that word, because the only way a diet works is if you keep up with it the rest of your life - and who can commit to that?

Once the New Year beings, I am reinstating the lifestyle change in which I focus on keeping myself healthy, not on losing a few pounds. This includes increasing the amount I exercise. For those of you who don’t exercise, start. It’s actually incredible how much better you feel when you do.

Either way, when you focus on health, instead of on weight, you will see positive changes. If weight is all you think about, you're not only neglecting your health, but setting yourself up for failure. Diets don't work, but healthy lifestyle changes do.

friends

6. Get a job.

Best thing I’ve done here. The phrase "poor college student" is totally real. Between the apartment payments and student loans, I needed a job when I started college. I'm so happy I found a good one - I love working at the library, my coworkers are great, and I make enough money to keep me afloat. I recommend everyone get a job while in school if possible. It's a great way to be independent from your parents and gain valuable work experience for the future.

7. Use a planner.

So here is what I am involved in: I have this blog, student organizations, volunteering for those student orgs, tutoring, work and class. Suffice to say I need to stay organized so I do not forget to do anything. That's why my daily planner is my best friend. It is in terrible shape since I've used it so much and I am so pumped for my 2010 one. My best advice: write down everything you have to do, and make sure to fit in time to eat and exercise!

8. Take time out for yourself.

"Me nights" are something I do often - they're nights where I throw my books down and do what I want to do - give myself a pedicure, watch The Office with my roommates, or just watch a movie in bed. These are key for beating burnout in college

Do NOT feel guilty about taking "me" time. Everyone has to take care of themselves once in a while, and it's even more important to do during college.

9. Keep your life balanced.

As a Libra, I am obsessed with balance. I like to get good grades, but I also like to go out on the weekends. I like to spend time with boys, but I make sure that I have time with my friends. I love ice cream nights with the girls (I live across the street from McDonalds!) but I also love taking some me-time. Balance is SO key to staying sane in college, and making time for everyone and everything makes you a well-rounded person. Strive for balance in your life and you'll go far.

10. Always keep looking forward.

The main thing that I have learned these past few years is that you have to let go of what happened to you in the past. Let go of that boy in high school that you are not even friends with anymore. Let go of a petty fight with a friend. Let go of that failing grade on the last midterm. If you are stuck in the past and carrying baggage, you are not going to be approachable. Things happen, but they are just a tiny blip on the radar in the grand scheme of things. Enjoy who you are and enjoy what’s to come.

final blog pic

There are my words of wisdom. I have learned so much and I still have more semesters to go. I have felt myself grow up immensely and I am glad I got a chance to share that with you. Thanks for a great semester!

Peace and love,
Meggy

Your Thoughts?

As always: What do you think? What is the most important thing you have learned so far in college? What are your words of wisdom? Tell us in the comments section!