Have you heard that question, “What are you going to do with your life?” Probably a million times. I was lucky enough to grow up knowing my great-grandparents and though I can’t recall many words of wisdom they gave me, I do remember that in my senior year of high school my great-grandfather used to ask me, “What are you going to do with your life?” Back then I would tell him “I want to be a nurse and help people.” Well, It’s been three years and he has since passed, but his voice still plays in my head as people ask me what I’m going to do when I graduate from college.

Now that question is staring me in the face as I prepare for whatever I am actually going to do with my life. I’m left wondering if I’m ready. Personally, I think I am and I have my college experience to thank.

Here are 15 lessons I learned the hard way so that hopefully you won’t make the same mistakes in your first year of college.

  1. Who you were in high school has no bearing on who you are in college. You have the unique opportunity to redefine who you are.
  2. Embrace new things. You just might find something you really enjoy.
  3. Surround yourself with people who will push you forward. Good friends can determine how successful you are in your college career. Learn to listen to others. They usually have good advice.
  4. Be that good friend. Push friends to better themselves while they keep you accountable. Become better together.
  5. You’re going to do some dumb things, so don’t be stupid about it.
  6. Go to class. I’ve seen smart people fail classes and drop out solely because they didn’t go to the lectures.
  7. Go to the professor’s office hours. Getting to know your professor can really help you if you’re struggling with the material.
  8. There are cheaper options for textbooks online.
  9. Don’t go home every weekend. College is about striking out on your own, becoming independent, and figuring out life.
  10. Do call your family every now and then. They worry.
  11. Get out of your room. Find something to do that doesn’t involve you sitting in your room. Of all my time in college, I can’t think of a time that getting out of my room didn’t lift my spirits.
  12. Eat proper meals, drink water, and get some sleep. This tip is brought to you by a ramen-loving, dehydrated, sleep-deprived senior.
  13. Take some time for self-reflection every now and then. Understanding/finding yourself is an important matter in college.
  14. Take a break from social media for a while. It can become draining. Being offline is refreshing.
  15. Learn what works for you when it comes to your money. Budget accordingly for the entire school year.

Good luck in college!

If you can’t remember all the 15 lessons I learned the hard way, maybe you can remember this: Work hard and be nice to people, including yourself. That is the key to success in college and it isn’t a bad answer to that question you keep hearing: “What are you going to do with your life?

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