10 Lessons I Learned in College, Outside the Classroom

Undoubtedly, college is a productive, jam-packed, and scary time. Staying mindful and aware of who you are is key. Your decisions ultimately define what kind of time you have in college! So be smart going in, and you’ll graduate at least a tad wiser. About to graduate from uni myself, I’ve compiled some essential lessons I learned in hopes of helping you.

1. Even if you’re going to school a few miles away, create a home away from home.

A steady support system is fundamental to success in college. College is a very stressful time because you are trying to figure out where you belong in the world and pursuing a rigorous area of study. A family of friends you live with is ideal.

2. Do not be afraid to cook.

Take risks in the kitchen and try new things. Make sure not to ever skip a meal. Fresh, healthy meals are nourishing for your body and soul. The bigger the kitchen, the better. The best thing about going away for college is how college equips you with life skills. Cooking is one such life skill you should learn sooner rather than later.

3. Studying in libraries is overrated.

Explore different cafes and find a few you fancy where you can people-watch and get inspiration for papers. Or simply make yourself comfortable at home with a steamy mug—hot chocolate, tea, what have you—by your side.

4. Come to campus laden with minimalist gear and a durable cap.

There are times you certainly do not want to stand out in class. Such as when you didn’t have a chance to do the reading assignment last night.

5. Don’t waste money.

This can be interpreted in various ways. Okay, you can treat yourself to European cheese and wine. Venture out and try new things even if you need to spend a little more than you would have staying home. You deserve at least that much! Just think through your purchases. Keep receipts should you need to make a refund.

6. You might want to have a car of your own.

In your years as an upperclassman, you will want to drive a car for grocery shopping, traveling to interviews, and exploring beyond the bubble near campus you inhabit. Although car-sharing services like Zipcar and Uber exist, you have unparalleled access to ease and convenience with a vehicle of your own.

7. Take advantage of caffeine boosts but don’t abuse them.

Sure, coffee smells and tastes great. The beverage is comforting and rumored to offer health benefits, none of which are scientifically guaranteed. At the same time, coffee yellows teeth and the effects of excessive intake, ranging from anxiety to tremors, are not pleasant.

8. Get. Some. Sleep.

This goes without saying, but please—never underestimate sleep deprivation.

9. Look into a semester or summer abroad.

Going abroad is definitely a gem of an opportunity you can’t miss, especially if you haven’t been abroad before! It’s impactful like nothing else. ☺

10. Have some fun!

Reflecting on the past three years, I didn’t have as much fun as I should have. Frankly, I wish I let loose a little more. As a naturally serious person, I focused primarily on my education when in fact, you flourish and grow in college from the fun you have, your academics, and the unique opportunities college gives you. You distinguish what you like from what you don’t. College fleshes you out as a person.

The following recommendations are derived from the lessons above. On a personal note, I went away to university without doing my research first. Huge red flag: I didn’t visit my campus before I decided to attend. Before going to college, I knew what I wanted to major in and had a pretty clear idea of my long-term career after graduation. Yet, I still wasn’t prepared enough. I did not have a plan B. So, when my initial plan didn’t go the way I imagined, I panicked. Furthermore, I advise one to look into the housing situation around campus. Seriously evaluate whether the campus is one you can imagine yourself happy in for the next four years.

Diane Won

Diane's priority is as a Legal Studies student at UC Berkeley. Even so, Diane is a Cali native and foodie who enjoys hiking, traveling, running, reading, and best of all, writing in her downtime. Diane writes for mxdwn, an entertainment publication online, in addition to The Vim.


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