My little sister Butterfly is off to her freshman year at the university of her dreams.
Honestly, she doesn’t need my advice. She’s very capable and has unique interests that will take her far. But every 18-year-old woman leaving home for the first time deserves words of wisdom on creating an authentic, deeply experienced life. For me, freshman year was nearly 10 years ago. I vividly remember feeling overwhelmed by the drastic change.
By Ajableu Oldham
I had moved to Paris and it was wonderful! …until I spilled red wine all over my brand new laptop computer three days into my new life, because I wasn’t being careful…
That following morning, I woke up and realized that I didn’t have any money to get home and didn’t have my new address. I had to walk in the direction of the Eiffel Tower, which was where my new school was located.
The rest of the year was kind of like that…
Also on KimberlyElise.com: How To Be Vegan Or Gluten-Free In Paris
I’m still very capable of spilling red wine on my laptop, but there are things that I did then that I wouldn’t do now. Also, there are things that I’m glad that I did.
Read my college advice for every student below, and share your own advice in the comments.
Choose Your Friends Carefully
In college, there are so many opportunities to make lasting, deep relationships. It’s easy to become very dependent on a group of close friends.
Make sure that they are the right kind of people who will help you move forward in your life.
Take note of how your new friends are spending their time. Are they going to class and taking on leadership roles? Do they have realistic dreams that they are working toward? Or, do they talk about wanting to do something but sit around and do drugs?
Their habits will eventually become your habits, so choose wisely.
Don’t Burn Bridges Over Petty Situations
Do your best to remain respectful to everyone that you live and work with. I say this because oftentimes, those people come back around in professional circles. You want to make sure that your reputation among your college colleagues is strong.
Some college advice: A favorable reputation might land you a job, down the line.
If there are opportunities to travel to different states or countries, I highly recommend that you take them up.
When I traveled in college, I was usually broke. Sometimes, my friends and I would travel to a new country without any nighttime accommodations booked. As a result, we’d have to spend all night wandering through the bars and clubs until the bus was operating at dawn. I’ll never, EVER do that again, but I’m glad that I did.
There is nothing like traveling while carefree, roughing it in the wilderness, eating only a baguette to save money for another bus, meeting new friends in youth shelters, and exploring new areas of your personality in an unfamiliar place.
Now that I’m an adult, I always book a hotel.
More on Kimberly Elise.com: Why Traveling Is An Important Experience
Take A Variety Of Classes. Don’t Settle On One Path Too Soon
While I was in college, I was fixated on becoming a mental health professional. That was the only career that interested me.
In my final months of my senior year, I realized that becoming a therapist would require four to six additional years of laboratory work and boring research — away from the exciting and relevant world of business.
If I could go back in time, I would give myself this college advice: take international business classes while abroad. It’s so obvious to me now, but at the time I was fixated on my major.
When you first enter college, you are still learning about who you are and what you might want to do with your life. Many people spend years after college figuring out their careers. It’s possible that your future dream job doesn’t even exist yet.
So, try to pick an assortment of classes that expand your interests. You may realize that you don’t truly enjoy the path that seemed so right in your imagination.
Take As Many Internships As Possible
Don’t let socializing get in the way of building your resume. Internships are yet another opportunity to get to know yourself and build your ideal career.
And by the time you’ve reached your third year, the good internships that lead to careers after graduation might be taken. Find an internship during your freshman or sophomore summer vacation. Volunteering is equally as valuable, so try that if you can’t find an internship.
Internships are opportunities for established companies to groom college students. Don’t let such an opportunity pass you by!
Keep an Eye Out For Salary In Your Chosen Profession
I have a number of friends who studied subjects that they loved, such as English or history, then graduated and realized that the jobs in the field they studied didn’t pay competitively. I’m not saying that you shouldn’t study what you love. However, I think it’s important to be strategic.
Bolster your resume with internships and volunteer opportunities. Gain hands-on, relevant skills beyond the classroom. Ask people in your desired field questions about their day-to-day life.
It’s cool to work in fashion, but how does it pay? How much does veterinary school actually cost?
That’s some of my advice from college. What’s yours? Share in the comments below!
Photo Source: Ajableu Oldham & We Heart It