While you’re in college, it’s easy to get sucked into the party lifestyle, pressure from professors, sleepless nights, coffee addictions, and even mental health crises. College can be overwhelming, but a few downs shouldn’t keep you from enjoying this once in a lifetime experience.
Here are some of the lessons I learned after graduation that I wish I had known while I was still in college:
Perfect grades are not worth a mental health crisis.
During college, I made it my mission to acquire a perfect grade point average (GPA.) I was raised to believe that grades were going to ensure my success and happiness. As a recent graduate with a 3.9 GPA, you would expect me to be rolling in the life-fulfilling dollars, but that is far from the case. The truth is that my GPA did not serve me much and many—if not most—recent graduates with exceptional GPAs find themselves in the same situation.
In many fields, exceptional GPAs are only necessary for post-grad research programs. I was uninterested in research, and yet I was so obsessed with perfection that I completely ignored this reality until a post-grad supervisor explained that I do not even need my GPA on my resume.
Volunteering will be the most fulfilling thing you do.
Looking back, I glance at my old college football game selfies with a slight chuckle. However, I find that my eyes swell with tears whenever I glance at my local nursing home volunteering pictures. In hindsight, I would have sacrificed some of my A’s to dedicate myself more to volunteering. Volunteering does add value to your resume and life.
These memories are also most valuable for those who are looking to get post-grad employment and internship opportunities. Employers like to see that you have field experience, even if it means that you worked at a soup kitchen.
If you haven’t done so already, I recommend joining at least one volunteering activity. It will warm your heart, stimulate your mind, and change your life.
You will change.
As college progresses, you may find yourself as a completely different person with a new social circle and perspective on life. You may even find yourself wanting a different career. This is very normal.
Contrary to popular belief, it is never too late for you to make a change. You are not chained down to your chosen major, despite how limited you may feel. Make sure to periodically re-evaluate your goals and wants in order to keep your priorities in check.
College can be excruciatingly difficult. Be proud of yourself!
If you are a college student, you deserve a pat on the back for merely being in it right now. College is a wild ride, but in the end, it is totally worth it.
People will typically say, “Enjoy it.” All I can say is: Take care of yourself throughout the ups and downs as best as you know how.
Find a support system. Develop a couple of healthy habits. Keep yourself distracted by joining a club or a sport. And remember, it’s okay to seek professional help if you’re feeling overwhelmed by the whole college experience. But most importantly, know that it is all temporary and you will be okay.
by Monica Larrea