Sparkles and Sunshine: 7 Things I wish I knew before starting college

7 Things I wish I knew before starting college

Tuesday, October 3, 2017

Hi there everyone!

Every now and then I get a call from my university's alumni association and the call is always the same. It starts out with a student asking you a few questions about your time at the university. Questions like:
  • "What were you involved in at UNF?" 
  • "Why did you choose UNF?"
Sometimes, those questions lead to other questions that are more personal in a good way. A few weeks ago, I got this call and one question that I really liked was did you do any internships? I liked this question because the answer I gave is something I really wish I knew before/while I was in my first year or two of college.

There's so many things you're told before you start college, but there's also a lot that you're not. Today I wanted to share with you what I wish I would have known before I started college in hopes that it helps you feel more prepared and allows you to really enjoy your time there!

1) Sorority Life

For those of you that saw my sorority chapter outfit ideas post, you all know that I was a member of the Alpha Chi Omega women's fraternity while I was in college. Sorority life definitely has its' ups and downs. I've outlined a few below:

  1. Cost: When you join a sorority, you have "dues" to pay each semester and they are expensive. I paid for mine with leftover scholarship money. In your first semester, your dues are going to be the most expensive because you will be paying for your badge. Every sorority's dues are different because they include different things. Make sure to ask your sorority what to expect money wise so that you are prepared. Sorority's also have a TON of fun events that also are at an extra cost. Some events such as formals are included in your dues but again every sorority is different. Be prepared to have extra money saved for those events + t-shirts (because of course all of them are super cute). 
  2. Events: As I started to mention above, sorority's have many events such as formals, socials, volunteering, and more that you will be able to attend. This was definitely my favorite part about being in a sorority because I always had a ton of fun at these events. They are great opportunities to meet other girls in your sorority, other women at Panhellenic events and of course the cute fraternity guys on campus. :) 
  3. Time: A sorority takes up a TON of time. Always remember that school is the reason why you are there and not because of a sorority. Most sororities (I know mine did), had sister study sessions and GPA requirements. This was great because if you had a certain GPA, you weren't allowed to attend certain events because they wanted your focus to be on school. The events that took up the most time for me were the dance competitions. I know that every school is different, but pretty much every university that I've ever seen had some form of dance competition. Be prepared to spend hours, weeks and weekends on this. I remember having practices start at 9pm and go all the way until midnight or past midnight. 

2) All Nighters

Okay, there might be some controversy on this one. I personally hated and refused to do an all nighter in college. I tried staying up late in college to study, but the truth of the matter is, you get so tired that you're not really able to compartmentalize everything that you're reading and the lack of sleep is not going to help you the next day either. 

I know coffee was invented for a reason, and that there are Starbucks on many campus', but still. Your body needs sleep in order to take care of itself. At the end of the day, you have to's just a test. You should always do your best, but you should never exhaust yourself in the process.

3) Internships

There are so many benefits to this! When I started college, I was a political science major. At that time, I was like yes, I am going to be a lawyer because I like to argue and it's going to be great. Yeah, no. I did an internship with a presidential campaign, and saw some things that I didn't like and didn't want to be a part of. It actually made me realize that politics wasn't meant for me. At the end of that internship I had to write a paper about my experience. I blatantly said it showed me that I needed to change my major because it wasn't what I thought it was...and I got an A! 

Internships tell you a lot about yourself. From doing them, they do improve you. My second internship was with the company that I have now worked for for over two years. My suggestion is, do as many internships as you can. They won't always hire you on. Honestly, I got really lucky. By doing more internships, you acquire more skills that will help you get your first job after college. 

(This is the business building where I spent most of my time!)

4) Money

Everyone knows that college is expensive. They charge you for EVERYTHING! Parking, food, books, and even doing your own laundry. I remember being so shocked on that one. With all of these costs, it's important to establish a budget and stick to it! Allow yourself only a certain amount of money per week and choose what it's going towards. $25 can be towards eating out, $40 can be towards groceries, etc. Choose what works best for you and stick with it! You could even end up with money left over at the end of the week. 

5) It's okay to start college with an undecided major. 

I knew many people who started college with an undecided major and there's nothing wrong with that. That's what's so great about college; you really learn what you do and don't like to do. I changed my major three times and a lot of people change theirs more than that! Your first two years are all about your general education courses which include so many different types of electives. In addition to this, I recommend attending different extracurricular groups on campus (there's usually free food involved too!). Those will also show you what you are passionate about.

6) You don't have to get the meal plan!

You actually save so much money without it. Some university's make it mandatory for freshman to get it. The benefit of not getting the meal plan is that you can get prepare healthy meals for your whole week rather than relying on liking what they serve on campus. Sometimes it's really good and sometimes it's not. Again, every college is different. Just know, you don't have to stick with it forever!

(My alma mater) 

7) Scholarships are hard to get once you're in college.

In high school, I had to work really hard to get scholarships for college because if I didn't, I wasn't going. I achieved enough scholarship money to pay for my entire first year and then some of my second I believe. Once I hit my junior and senior year, a few of my scholarships were able to be renewed for a different level but most of them weren't. I knew that I would have to start applying for student loans. University's have many scholarships available, but they are extremely hard to get. I had a great GPA but I still didn't receive any. My advice is to try to get as much as you can beforehand or if you're able to work while you're in college, try to set some aside so that you have something saved up if that happens.

I could talk about this subject all day, but I think those seven things are very important. If you are curious about any other college topics, please feel free to ask! I would love to help in any way possible.

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