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The 4 Things I Wish I Learned Before Going To College

Written in partnership with Kora

They say hindsight is 20/20. And it’s true. While 2013 wasn’t that long ago, it feels like just yesterday that I was moving into my college freshman dorm and venturing off into my four-year degree with little knowledge of how to navigate my new adventure, life with roommates and more. If I’d known the advice for college that I know now, it may have been a lot easier.

Luckily, it’s not too late for you. Learn how to be the best incoming student from my mistakes. These are the four things I wish I learned before going to college, below.

Learn From My Mistakes — The Advice For College You Should Know Before Going

1. Ramen Noodles Shouldn’t Be Your Only Meal

Yes, Ramen noodles are indeed a college staple. And from time to time, they’re fine to indulge in. But not for every meal. Back in my day — as if it was so long ago — every college student I knew was surviving on Ramen and soda. And that’s just not healthy.

If you want to do your best in your courses, and still have the energy to enjoy college fun too, it’s important to eat right. But now, with the rise of TikTok videos, we can learn anything we need to. Like how to cook inexpensive meals as a student or how to eat a quick but healthy meal when you’re really broke.

I’m sure if I had access to millions of step-by-step meal guides to making great food, I’d have had more focus, been less tired all the time and had more energy to hit up the beach after class — a great perk of going to college in California. So ditch the Ramen and take advantage of it all.

2. Having A Solid Budget Is Your Friend

When I was completing my undergrad, it felt like I and everyone around me had no concept of what it was like to manage money. Freshly eighteen, no one had sat me down and taught me how to properly budget, or how helpful it could be. In fact, I learned through many years of trial and error. But I wouldn’t recommend it. There’s a much easier way.

Using Kora, a free, helpful money app designed for college life, you can automatically track and budget your spending, receive small alerts when your account needs attention and get personalized reports and insight from real students, just like you. If I had the power of budgeting down in my time as a student, I’d have been so much better off.

Instead of losing track of how much you eat out, you can have your budget at your fingertips. Don’t forget about the $10 you spent at the campus cafe, or how much you’re supposed to spend on textbooks and make sure to leave a little room for fun money. Trust me, take advantage of having a tool that can truly do it all for you.

3. You Have Time To Figure Out What You Want

I know, I know. Cliche. But as cliche, as it sounds, you do have time to figure it out. You don’t have to know what you want the rest of your life to look like right this instant. When I was a freshman in college, I had absolutely zero ideas of what I could do or truly wanted to do. I was more focused on what I felt I should do.

I flopped between thinking I should do a business degree. Except I hate math. And then I thought about psychology or a more niche major like human development. But I found it a bit dry when I took one class on it. The one thing I loved, which I did in my spare time for fun, was writing. But it took me two years to discover that I could actually turn writing into a career. And in reality, I had the flexibility to take that time to figure it out. That’s the beauty of having to finish two years of general education courses.

And guess what? Now, ten years later, I’m a full-time editor and writer. Take it from me — you have all the time to truly discover what you actually want out of your career. And you can have fun along the way.

4. Don’t Rush Through This Time

I get it — when you’re in college, it can be really easy to wish you were already done with your degree, landing your dream job and accomplishing all that you want to in life. But doing this actually takes away from the time you could be enjoying in the present.

In my last year of college, I found myself wishing that I’d have enjoyed my time there more. And of course, hindsight is 20/20. Instead of rushing through the mundane, or complaining about having to study, try to see that this is one of the only times in your life you’ll get to live like this again. You get to focus on learning things you enjoy, devote your spare time to meeting new friends and going on new adventures, and most importantly, you get to revel in learning who you are and what’s important to you.

There is truly no other time like it. So take it from me: don’t rush. Enjoy it all while you have it.

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