I'm clearly not on the same page as everyone else!
I'm still fresh off the heels of graduating college and am still in the transition period between graduate and adult—or so I feel I am. While I am certainly very much just kicking off a wonderful, lengthy life with many years to go, college will go down as some of the best four. I will never regret the decision I made to attend a four year college despite the fact that I will be paying for it for the foreseeable future.
While the education was quite pricey, the experiences that I had outside of the classroom were priceless and made the time so much better. I was blessed with amazing people and got to fall in love with the amazing city that is Pittsburgh. Side note: peek this HarpersBazaar article listing PGH as one of the top 10 places to visit in 2017!
If I were to give some kind of advice to those just entering college (like the old wise person I am!) it would be, simply put, to go to class and also go places outside of class. In more specific terms:
Take advantage of what your school offers. Pitt was wonderful place to explore. Our student IDs could be used on public transportation throughout the Pittsburgh area. Anytime we needed or wanted to get to a different neighborhood or spend a day downtown, there was nothing keeping us from doing so. Our IDs also granted us access at most of the museums around the city. Let me tell you, it didn't suck to spend a rainy day wandering around the Carnegie Museums of Art and Natural History, which was right across the street from our campus.
Benefit from the free stuff on campus. I loved the plethora of free stuff that was available around campus throughout the year. On campus concerts, wellness classes and events, and alumni events were frequently on the calendar to ensure that we were never totally bored. I was also a huge fan of Pitt Arts, which provided the opportunity for students to attend film screenings and performances by the Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra, Pittsburgh Ballet, and the Opera with discussion and food included. I may or may not have appreciated the fabulous desserts and rich conversation at the Orchestra (and the beautiful architecture at Heinz Hall!)
Stay on top of your mental and physical health. Another benefit that I was very much grateful for was the 24-hour fitness centers around campus. Each residence hall included a private gym just for those students living in that particular hall. There were all two other fitness centers in the basketball arena and in the student union if you had time to set aside to sweat between classes! Mental health is also important. "Walk away" was a frequent text from my mom late at night when I was clearly burning out from information/work overload. Warning: those moments can be frequent in college; learn to identify the stress early and learn how to best handle it. I would close my laptop and devote at least one night during the weekend totally to my friends and good times. Maybe hit up karaoke night?
Make some money. Of course you can't commit yourself to working too many hours when you're already devoting so many to your studies; however, you can definitely fit in 10-12 hours a week to make some money for groceries! I got a job my junior year when I went off the campus meal plan since we had a kitchen in our apartment-style dorm. I was able to support my appetite (an accomplishment) and start squirreling away some cash for senior year when we would be moving totally off-campus. Additional financial tip: shop for things only as you need them. You may find yourself in the store more than once a week, but if you know what you need and you stick to that list it should be no problem.
Plan ahead. Understanding how you are going to pay for your education before you get into it is important. You need to know before you get started where you are getting your money from. I familiarized myself with the repayment packages before graduated so that I could prioritize my spending. I went strictly federal on my loans—I feel like pursuing other private loans might have stressed me out a bit more. There are also many services out there, like Earnest, that give you the opportunity to refinance and rework your loans to fit a model that you are more comfortable paying off and possibly paying off faster. And that's the goal isn't it? To pay it all off as fast as possible.
What are your college survival tips? Or if you're going to be attending, what are your concerns?