50 Little Life Lessons I Learned In College


1. It’s better to be the person that says “hello” and is ignored than the person that avoids eye contact.

2. Sometimes loyalty is the only quality you need in a friend.  Forget similar interests or identical senses of humor; if you can each count on each other being there when you need it most, you might’ve just found an invaluable friend for life.

3. Always take your make-up off at night—no matter how tired/drunk/rushed you might be.  You won’t regret it when you avoid the raccoon eyes the next morning or the break-out a week later.

4. Never tell someone when he or she looks sick or tired; they probably already feel it.

5. On that note, never point out someone’s sunburn; trust me, they already know.

6. Don’t judge someone for not drinking.  Don’t judge someone for drinking too much.  Don’t judge someone for hooking up with everyone.  Don’t judge someone for being a prude.  Just don’t judge because you don’t know what phases your own life will enter into or what anyone else is truly going through.

7. It’s okay to be a nerd: to express passion for what you’re studying, to spend a Friday night preparing for your hell week of tests, to choose to spend time watching a documentary rather than hitting the bars.

8. “I’m not good with names” is not an excuse.  Put in the effort to remember their name right off the bat and you’ll go far.

9. Be good to your body.  These are the days of your prime and, while it’s easy to binge drink, gorge at the dining hall, and sit on your computer instead of hitting the gym…sometimes just don’t.

10. But, at the same time, eat the damn slice of cake every once in a while.  Nobody likes the constant calorie counter.

11. Don’t chase anything but drinks and dreams.  AKA there are too many fish in the sea and far too few years in life to spend any time wasted on an undeserving ex-fling.

12. A clean email inbox is the easiest way to prevent an unnecessary stressor.

13. Invest in a good interview outfit and a good pair of skinny jeans.

14. The only people who really care about hearing your semesterly GPA or brag-worthy moments are your parents, grandparents, and (maybe) best friends.  A Facebook status is quite unneeded.

15. And, while on the subject of bragging, never, ever, ever brag about something that is ostensibly visible to everyone.  (Saying “Everyone tells me how great I look in this outfit” or “I’m so tan compared to you” will never earn you well-liked-ness.)

16. It’s not very hard to be polite.  Hold the door open.  Press the elevator buttons for everyone entering.  Say “please” and “thank you.”

17. More water, less coffee/soda/juice.  You’ll be shocked at the changes you see in not only your body, but your mind, energy levels, and overall health.

18. You don’t have to snub every begging homeless person you pass on the street.  You don’t have to give them your whole paycheck, but a to-go box of leftovers or a few bucks can change their day.  A moment of listening could change their life.

19. People don’t pay attention to you nearly as much as you think.  Wear the same shirt for three days in a row and you’ll see it’s true.

20. The only thing you can change about your past is how you feel about it.  Whether a past action becomes a regret or a lesson is totally up to you.

21. Don’t buy textbooks from the bookstore.  Do your research before you buy, even if it’s just on your parent’s bank account.

22. It’s pretty useful to learn how to walk semi-gracefully in high heels.

23. Don’t forget that while you’re growing up, your parents are growing old.  Savor every visit, don’t be embarrassed to spend a gameday at their tailgate, and make an effort to help them feel included in your college experience.  They’re the ones that worked endlessly to get you there, after all.

24. Hearing apologies and “I miss you’s” a few weeks after a break-up means, “I tried to find someone better but couldn’t.”  Don’t fall for it.

25. Always make sure you leave a party with three things: your wallet, your phone, and your pride.

26. Music can get you through a lot: studying playlists, workout playlists, “fuck him” break-up playlists… Make them all.

27. In the words of Lauren Conrad, it’s less important to have more friends and more important to have real ones.

28. A tad bit of jealousy isn’t a bad thing in a relationship.  It can be good to know someone is afraid to lose you.

29. Don’t be scared to change your major as soon as you realize that you definitively should.  Even if you’re two years into a different track of study with non-transferrable classes, it’s better to start over than spend your life on a path you don’t belong.

30. If your friend doesn’t look great in a photo, don’t upload it.  Even if you look great and it’s super tempting, “Do to others as you would have them do to you.”

31. If you made a mistake, admit it.  If you miss someone, tell them.  Do not, however, send 3+ texts with no responses because that is screenshot-able.

32. Handwritten notes (and “thank you” notes, in particular) never go out of style.

33. For the 5-10 most important people in your life, remember their birthdays without a Facebook reminder.  And clear your schedule as much as possible to help celebrate.

34. Saying “let’s get lunch and catch up” to an acquaintance really means “we’re never going to actually make plans but we’ll say this every single time we happen to run into each other and don’t know what else to say.”  Be the bigger person and act on this if you actually care about meeting up; otherwise, just don’t say anything at all.

35. Your teeth will actually move if you don’t wear your retainers as instructed; it’s not just something the orthodontist says.  And nobody wants to be the 24-year-old with braces.

36. There’s a world outside of class and partying.  Try out an obscure club.  Start volunteering.  Pick up a new hobby.  Travel.  Find a balance between work, fun, and everything in between.

37. If you’re not happy in solitude, you’ll never really be happy.  Learn something that you enjoy doing without anyone around—writing, running, or even just binge-watching Netflix.

38. Likewise, if you can’t comfortably sit in silence with someone else, you’re probably not that close.  Look for those people that you could sit on a porch with and enjoy their company without saying a word and keep those people around.

39. Never turn down the opportunity to try a new food.  Also never try said new food by ordering it as your only meal at a restaurant.

40. If every conversation with a friend involves talking badly about another friend, chances are they’re probably talking badly about you, too.

41. Along with this, people will talk bad about you.  People will spread lies and negativities.  However, what other people think about you is absolutely none of your business and you have to live your life without letting these things linger, if you happen to catch wind.

42. Sometimes it’s okay to say “no” without having an excuse as to why.

43. Over-prepare; then go with the flow.

44. “You don’t look back and remember the nights you got plenty of sleep.” But also, you need to actually get sleep…

45. Always have a go-to joke to tell and a go-to fun fact about yourself.

46. No matter how long someone has been a part of your life, it doesn’t mean they necessarily need to stay in it.  If someone detracts from your happiness more than they contribute to it, cut them loose and don’t look back.  Endings are always sad and beginnings are always hard, but do what must be done regardless.

47. Never be the last one to enter the pool at a party.

48. Oftentimes, the loudest, liveliest, most obnoxious personalities are the unhappiest people with a lot to hide.  Truly get to know people—and be there for them—and you might be surprised.

49. Don’t drink beer if you don’t like it.  Don’t wear pearls if you’re not comfortable.  Don’t pretend to like bands you actually hate.  You do you.

50. Believe it or not, you actually have the chance to do anything you want with your life if you’re putting in the work to get there.  And that’s a pretty incredible thought.

Read more lessons from colleGE — and what comes after.