This blog post was written by Rachel Bergan, our Campus Ambassador — and recent graduate — from the University of South Carolina. You can follow Rachel on Twitter @rachel_bergan.
You go to college to learn. You learn what type of career you want; what you want to do for the rest of your life; how to live on your own. You learn in a classroom, with textbooks, professors, exams and assignments. However, throughout college you also learn so much about friendships, relationships, life and -- most importantly -- yourself. Here are some of the invaluable lessons I got out of my college experiences, that didn’t come from a textbook:
1. It’s okay to transfer schools. I did, and it was the best choice I ever could have made for myself.
2. Step outside of your comfort zone: go to a school that the majority of your high school isn’t planning on attending, study abroad or join a new club. You will thank yourself later.
3. Experiences are worth so much more than “things.”
4. Everything you do and every choice you make becomes part of you forever -- you just might not know it yet.
5. Be open-minded. You are going to meet SO many new people from all different walks of life. Learn something new from them and take something positive away with you.
6. Call your parents. They want to hear from you. Your relationship with them will get stronger when you move out.
7. At one point or another, you will miss the small town you couldn’t wait to get out of four years ago.
8. A warm pan of brownies, a bottle of wine, “He’s Just Not That Into You” and your best girl friends are probably the best cure for just about anything.
9. Remember those high school friends who you swore were your “best friends for ever and ever?” Sometimes you have to accept that people change, and that it’s okay to grow apart.
10. But also remember those amazing friends from back home who will be there for you. Make sure to hold onto the good ones!
11. Be your own person. Do what YOU like. Make your own decisions. You don’t need to please everyone all they time — just be smart in the decisions you make!
12. Embrace your messy roommates, your loud apartment complex and the “frat house” environment. This is the only time you will live in a college town where you are constantly surrounded by all your best friends.
13. “Today is the first day of the rest of your life.” Live it.
14. Opportunities won’t just fall into your lap. You need to take initiative and go after what you want.
15. Don’t put your friends on the backburner for a romantic relationship. This needs little explanation. Just don’t do it.
16. You will never again be as young as you are at this very moment. Embrace your youth.
17. There is only so much that you can learn from a textbook. The best way to figure out what you like and dislike, and what career path you want to go down is by interning and gaining industry experience.
18. You’re going to get hurt. And you’re going to hurt others. Life goes on, and you learn to put things in perspective along the way.
19. Live in the present and enjoy the ride. Before you know it, freshman year is over, it’s the first day of senior year, it’s your last day of classes ever, and you’re walking across the stage. As graduation approaches you will realize how quickly time does pass, and will wish more than anything that you could get that time back.
20. Choose your friends. This is college — you have projects and exams and due dates and breakups and career searches and so on — and these are the people who get you through it. These are the people who become your family.
21. Pictures are worth more than a thousand words. Capture all of the amazing moments with friends; they will be reminders of the unforgettable memories you’ve created that you can look back on when you need a taste of college life. They truly make the memories last forever.
22. School spirit isn’t optional. Coming from an SEC school with a top 10 football program, I can attest to the fact that there is nothing more fun than being at a tailgate by 8am (of course, with full hair and makeup done), attending ESPN College Gameday, and cheering on the Gamecocks with “80,000 of your closest friends.”
23. One day you will wake up and call your college town “home.” This is when you know your life has changed.
24. The things you have learned, mistakes you’ve made, relationships you’ve built, and accomplishments you’ve achieved are all part of the college experience. Celebrate them, embrace them, learn from them; but most importantly, cherish them. You will never, ever have another experience like this.
25. And sometimes, a Winnie the Pooh quote explains it best: “How lucky I am to have something that makes saying goodbye so hard.”
When I packed up my car and made the first of what would turn into many 18 hour drives from Massachusetts to South Carolina, I had no idea how drastically my life would change. Three years later, I have irreplaceable friendships, countless memories and amazing experiences that I will carry with me for the rest of my life. Saying goodbye to the University of South Carolina in just a few short weeks is going to be the hardest thing I have ever had to do, as I have truly found a home away from home. The short time I have spent here has made an everlasting impression on my heart, and I will forever thank the University of South Carolina and college life for the wonderful memories I have made and the life lessons that I will never forget. Forever to thee.