What have I learned in college? If it were my parents asking, I might say something like “not much,” just to see the panicked look on their faces. Luckily however, this definitely isn’t the case. College is full of lessons, and I’d wager that several of your most important ones aren’t even learned in a classroom.
Yes, college is four-ish years of constantly going to class and learning new concepts, but if the most valuable lesson you’ve learned came from a book, then college may not have been the experience it should have been. Seriously though, you’re 18 years old, straight out of Mom and Dad’s house, and the most valuable lesson you’ve learned came from your biology class?
It’s not like I haven’t learned a lot in my classes. On the contrary, my classes here at UW have shaped every skill that I have in order to get a great job after graduation, and I am extremely grateful for that. However, the most valuable lessons from college mostly come from my experiences outside of the classroom. Here are just a few things that I’ve learned that might help you during college.
Come to College with a Smile on Your Face
One thing that I’ve noticed with everything, certainly not just college, is that having a great attitude and a smile on your face makes a world of difference. I understand that coming to a campus that has over 10,000 college kids can be an extremely intimidating experience, especially for small-town Wyoming kids.
Believe me, I understand better than most. Coming from a graduating class of 18 to lecture classes with 250 students seemed a bit like moving from Laramie to Los Angeles. You just have to remember that the mass majority of the kids next to you are a little panicked inside too.
When you’re out of your comfort zone, it can be a tough thing to do, but try to keep a good attitude and a smile on your face. People with smiles on their faces are much more likely to meet people, interact with strangers, and make friends, which brings me to my next point.
Make Good Friends
I don’t know many people ages 25+ who still have great relationships with their high school buddies. It seems like in most cases, the friends that last—the friends that will be groomsmen in your wedding—you will meet in college.
These relationships will be great down the road, but having good friends while you are in college is also extremely important. College is four years of fun, but don’t kid yourself, there will be plenty of stressful or even scary moments.
God forbid anything serious happens, but if/when they do, you will notice how much easier it is to deal with issues if you have a great supporting cast. Common college best friend tasks may include: rides to the hospital, a month of chauffeuring your buddy when their car breaks down, a small loan until the end of the month, or just someone to tell you that you’re being an idiot (maybe the most important).
Another important lesson to learn as early as possible is that people at UW are largely very nice people—teachers, students, advisers, department heads, pretty much everybody. This is important, especially for new and incoming students, because you will most definitely have questions. If you are timid and scared to ask questions, that’s going to be a problem.
I don’t say all this like I’m looking through a telescope at timid college kids. I say this because it’s something I went through. A little freshman on a big campus who’s worried about asking stupid questions… that’s not a good combination.
The truth is, 95 percent of people around campus would be happy to answer stupid questions if they can, whether it’s about where a classroom is or if it’s about who to talk to about your degree evaluation. Don’t be afraid to ask questions, because for the most part, people are very willing to help.
Overall, the University of Wyoming has been an incredible experience for me. Yes, there were some tough times. Like when I got locked in my dorm room for a whole day by -20 degree weather, or when I failed my first test, and thought my college career was finished.
However, I’m under a month away from graduating now, so things obviously came to pass. I’d like to think I would have been fine on my own, but luckily, I never had to find out what that is like. When I needed a little push from behind, my friends were there. When I needed some tough love, my brother was there.
You don’t have to go through college by yourself, and you really don’t want to. Even if you are shy and nervous, plaster a smile on your face, and go make some friends. Enjoy college, because now that I can literally count the days until graduation, it’s really sinking in how much I will miss the University of Wyoming.