Wednesday, August 21, 2013

College: What to Expect

I wish someone had given me a list when I started at Kansas State University 5 years ago. Now that I've graduated, I've had some time to reflect on my experience. I can't help but think the process would have been easier if I had list filled with things to expect, the things to avoid and the things to look forward to ...
I started thinking about this topic after seeing about a million posts on social media about #firstdayofcollege, #backtoschool, etc. Then someone shared this fabulous post from More Love Letters, entitled "A Love Letter to College Freshmen"
One quote in particular stuck out to me -
"It’ll be the best four years of your life… that’s what they’re telling you, right? That—if done right—these next four years will sculpt you & change you & make you ready for the real world. Truth told: this is the real world. It’s yours. Stop thinking otherwise. Don’t let a moment more slip away."
photo courtesy of
photo courtesy of

Here's that list I always wanted -

What to Expect
1. COLLEGE IS HARD. A's are not going to come naturally, so put in the time and effort now (not 2 days before the final).
2. Dorm food isn't all that good. Learn to eat cereal for supper (or any meal really), and take advantage of anything fresh (fruit, salad, carrots & celery) ... those dorm cafeterias love the ultra-processed foods. If you grew up like me, your stomach is not prepared for eating this everyday.
3. Carry your student ID with you everywhere. You will get locked out of the dorms. You will forget your student ID number when you have to put it on your tests. You will need it to do silly things on campus (printing, picking up transcripts, etc.)
4. People that want to remain friends will work at it, even if you're 500 miles away. Remember that friendships will come and go. Your "friends" from home will forget about you (until the want something); but the friendships you make in college will (sometimes) trump. Think about it, you are making it through these difficult years together!

The trip where I discovered "ranchy boys" weren't for me (2008).
The trip where I discovered "ranchy boys" weren't for me (2008).

What to Avoid
1. Over spending. My mom will tell you that I was god-awful at managing my finances. Just because you go to college with $XXX in your checking account, doesn't mean you need to spend it. DON'T BE LIKE ME.
2. Wasting time on pointless relationships. I made friends with someone because we were from the same state, and thought that made us "automatic friends" and rested on that for almost two years. Just because people pretend to have similar interests & goals, doesn't mean they will in a few months.
3. Eating out 4x week. Just because "everyone else" is doing it, doesn't mean you have to. It's okay to eat a meal by yourself and it's okay to say no every once in a while.
4. Never leaving school. Go home with your friends, or take them home with you. You learn so much about yourself, the way you grew up and other people when you go spend a weekend with their family! You may call your mom and thank her for teaching you to pick up after yourself, and you may learn that "ranchy boys" aren't for you. Trust me, get out and explore!
5. Getting over involved. Make sure you are involved in something outside of class - intramural sports, clubs, judging teams ... SOMETHING. But don't be like me and join (almost literally 382901 things) ... you will be stressed and your grades, friendships and roommates will suffer.

Things to Look Forward To

My fellow Forrest Bassford Travel Award winners and me in Albuquerque August 2012.
My fellow Forrest Bassford Travel Award winners and me in Albuquerque August 2012.
1. Accomplishing your dreams. Set goals for yourself and don't stop until you reach them. I wanted to win the Forrest Bassford Award. I applied 3 times before being awarded a travel award, and never won the big kahuna. But it was a long-shot goal that I made happen, and I'll always treasure the memories that lead me there.
2. The traditions that make up your university. At K-State, everyone wears purple. I LOVE PURPLE & ALWAYS WILL! Go to sporting events, go to lectures and go get free stuff at the union. Don't spend your 4+ years holed up in your room, go get that "experience" of just being in college and making your own decisions.

Graduation day was one of my happiest - ever (Dec. 2012).
Graduation day was one of my happiest - ever (Dec. 2012).
3. Graduation. For me, nine semesters of long hours in the computer lab, library, class, in the judging van and more were worth it when I walked across the stage. Being asked to give a speech on that special day was special; giving advice to my peers with the help of Carrie Bradshaw from Sex & The City made them laugh and me nearly cry.

So fellow college grads, what would you add to this list?


  1. I made the best friends when I was in college. When my roommate walked in with the same college team bed sheets I knew we were going to get along. I lost a lot of friends from home when I went to college but I gained so much more. I also couldn't handle eating out every night, it made me sick to my stomach. I used to have the girls over to my dorm for dinner, we used to take turns cooking. Definitely helped us with not gaining the freshman 15.

    1. Thanks Lauren! I really enjoy cooking and did that often for my friends as well, great way to eat different things and still stay within a budget :)