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The rich text element allows you to create and format headings, paragraphs,

blockquotes, images, and video all in one place instead of having to add and

format them individually. Just double-click and easily create content.

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Headings, paragraphs, blockquotes, figures, images, and figure captions can all be styled after a class is added to the rich text element using the "When inside of" nested selector system.

Headings, paragraphs, blockquotes, figures, images, and figure captions can all be styled after a class is added to the rich text element using the "When inside of" nested selector system.

Headings, paragraphs, blockquotes, figures, images, and figure captions can all be styled after a class is added to the rich text element using the "When inside of" nested selector system.

  • after a class is added to the rich text element using the "When inside of" nested selector system.
  • after a class is added to the rich text element using the "When inside of" nested selector system.

Headings, paragraphs, blockquotes, figures, images, and figure captions can all be styled after a class is added to the rich text element using the "When inside of" nested selector system.

Main image courtesy of PBS.

So you’ve just graduated from high school and you’ve been accepted to college. That’s great news! The difficult part of applying to schools and waiting for acceptance letters is through. Now all you need to do is wait until it’s time to move onto campus.

In the meantime, there’s all kinds of things you’ve probably got planned for the summer in between high school and college. This is a unique time in your life, where you’re finishing up one part of your life, and ready to embark on the next. This is also the ideal time to start thinking hard about how you’d like to shape your college experience. One of the best ways to do that is to prepare for anything and everything. 

You may have some idea of what college is like, but you won’t know for sure until you get there. That’s why we thought we’d give you our list of things students wish they knew before they started college. Think of it as a little last minute advice!

Keep reading because we’re going to discuss:

  • Why college is such an important experience
  • Our advice for the class of 2026, so you can take advantage of every minute

Why college is so important

Going to college is beneficial, and a great experience

college friends in their dorm room
College is a great time to learn about yourself and make some new friends. Image courtesy of Grace College.

People have all kinds of reasons for why they want to go to college. Some do it because they want to study something in particular, others want the college experience, and some are the first members of their families to go onto higher education. All reasons for attending college are valid, and we’re here to tell you that making this decision can benefit you for the rest of your life. 

College is important because:

  • Allows you to earn more. There is a direct correlation between higher education and the ability to earn more. The more education you have, the less likely you’re going to be unemployed as well. This can add up to a lot of extra money throughout your lifetime just by having a bachelor’s degree.
  • You’re likely to be more satisfied with your job. People with college degrees are also more likely to be satisfied with their job, and report feeling happier overall. Higher education allows you to pursue subjects that you are passionate about and really enjoy being a part of. When you are satisfied with your employment, it reinforces your sense of identity. 
  • More likely to be a homeowner. A college education can also make it more likely that you will own a home. Many people strive to own their home, but actually being able to can depend on a variety of factors. If you have a college degree, chances are you’re earning more, allowing you to make such a large purchase.
  • Be more financially savvy. It takes a while for everyone to find their financial footing, but college graduates tend to be more financially savvy throughout their lifetime. When you have a college degree you’re more likely to have a bank account and less likely to use expensive forms of credit like pay-day loans.
  • May live longer. Studies have found that college educated people are less likely to smoke, will wear their seatbelt, and try to eat healthy. 
  • Be a better member of the community. When you’re a part of a college, you’re a part of a community. The skills you learn there follow you throughout your life such as volunteering, donating money to charity, and participating in elections.

While getting a college degree doesn’t mean the rest of your life will be easy, there are some definite perks to going down this path. 

Things I wish I knew before college (remember these!)

Our advice to the class of 2026 

college students in class
College is a hectic and exciting time, so make the most of it! Image courtesy of Forbes

So while you wait to start your college experience, you’ve probably been doing a lot of reading on what you can and cannot expect from the next four years of your life. College on TV and in movies is one thing, and you know by now that they are not the same thing as reality! We encourage you to take the time to think about what it is you want to get out of college. You don’t have to have a master plan, but having a kind of general direction can give you at least a good place to start.

Make sure to enjoy this time, but we thought it would be helpful to let you in on a little secret and give you our list of 8 things you should know before starting college. So pay attention and you’ll be prepared to face anything when you start your new college life!

The first year may be overwhelming (and that’s okay)

There is going to be so much going on your freshman year of college! Once the chaos of orientation week and move-in day subside, you’ll be left with the task of actually figuring out your classes, how to study, how to make friends, and find where you fit it. If that sounds like a lot, it is. And those are no small tasks!

In addition, you’ll also have to figure out your living situation, how to do basic tasks like laundry, how to include exercise, part-time work, and what kind of clubs/frats/sororities you want to join. Don’t get overwhelmed just yet, you have four years to figure these all out. Remember, your health and your studies come first, the rest will most likely fall into place.

Don’t be afraid to try new things and reach out to new people. What’s the worst that can happen? You won’t like the new hobby or club? You can keep trying other ones! The same goes when it comes to making friends. Just because you’re randomly put in a room with one person, doesn’t mean you have to be best friends. Go out and make your own friends! 

Freshman year is a great time to start doing things for yourself, so never apologize for doing something that makes you happy, and avoid situations (or people) that don’t.

Have a routine for everything

This is the first time you’re going to be responsible for you. If you’ve never had to do this before, routines can be really helpful. It’ll take a couple of weeks, but eventually you fall into a routine with your classes. What buildings they’re in, how long it takes you to walk there, etc. After those logistics are done, making a study routine is key. Each of your classes will be different and require a different amount of studying. You can only figure this out with time. 

Routines are also helpful when you’re getting ready in the morning and at night. In order to avoid the dreaded freshman 15 pounds, it might also be in your best interest to develop an eating, exercise, sleeping, and self-care routine. As you progress in your college career, you’ll learn that the more you make time for yourself, the better you’ll feel and the more success you’ll have in the classroom. 

Define your own style

College is the first step to your young adulthood. It’s also a great opportunity to define your own personal style! Decorating your dorm room is one of the best ways you can do that. You’re going to be spending a lot of time in that room going forward, which is why it’s so important to make it a great place to relax, study, and sleep. And yes, this can be done in one tiny room that you may have to share with other people!

Some of the top ways to really make your dorm room stand out include:

  • Peel and stick wallpaper. You probably know by now there is a long list of do’s and don’ts when it comes to hanging stuff up in your dorm. Putting holes in the walls is a no-go so it’s time to get creative. Peel and stick wallpaper is such an easy way to add some vibrancy to your plain white walls. 
OCM peel and stick wallpaper
Peel and stick wallpaper can really transform the vibe of a room. Image courtesy of OCM.
  • Lighting. You just can’t go wrong with adding cool light fixtures to your dorm room to show off your style. Overhead fluorescent lights can be awful, which is why it’s important to decorate with string lights or desk lights. Not only will these increase the places you can study or read in your dorm room, but they make it look so welcoming. 
  • Color coordination. You don’t have to be all matching when you want to coordinate your bedspread and pillows. But having a color scheme can make a real difference in the ambiance of your space. Try working with different shades of the same color or similar colors in different textures. You can easily pull the look of the whole room together by sticking to palettes such as warm, cool, or neutral colors

Making friends is hard

Even if you’re excited to make new friends and consider yourself an extrovert, making friends is still hard. Although it is scary being in a place where you literally do not know anyone, it honestly helps to remember that everyone is also in the same boat. We’re going to say that again: everyone is just as nervous and self-conscious about making new connections as you are. One of the top things students wish they did more of in college was put themselves out there and try to just forget about the pressure to “make friends.” After all, making friends is a process, it is not something that just happens. 

Give yourself time, it can happen more organically than you might think. If you don’t know where to start or feel like you don’t know how to make friends, that’s okay! Start by joining a club or a group on campus that interests you. There’s probably some friendly people there who would love to get to know you.

Join clubs, groups, or sports

This goes hand in hand with meeting new people and having new experiences. If you’ve always wanted to improve your Spanish skills, consider joining the Spanish club. Same goes if you liked the camaraderie you got from high school sports, as most colleges have intramural sports teams. Want to keep playing your musical instrument? Chances are there’s a group on campus. You might be surprised how many niche clubs and groups you can find on campus, so what’s holding you back? 

Not only can clubs, groups, and sports allow you to participate in something you love, they’re a great way to expand your social network.

Get to know a professor or advisor

Professors are a wealth of information, and getting to know a few is a great use of your time. The same goes for advisors. Make sure you actively reach out to them and ask for their assistance when you’re crafting your course schedule, or are looking for internship/job opportunities. They are also very good resources for letters of recommendation. Remember they want to help you and see you do well. 

You may not love all your classes

In the interest of keeping things honest, you’re probably not going to love all your college classes. This is especially true of the first couple of semesters when you need to take care of gen ed requirements. You’re not going to immediately delve into the intricacies of abnormal psychology on day one—you’re going to have to get through Psych 101 and Psych 201 first. 

But you are also going to take some of the most interesting classes you’ve probably ever taken before with some really passionate instructors. Ask any college graduate, and chances are they have at least one class and one professor that stands out years later as their favorite. 

Keep everything in moderation

This is a great saying to keep in mind throughout your life. Whether it’s studying, partying, relaxing, sleeping, eating, working, or exercising—you can definitely do too much of a good thing. This is where it’s helpful to have routines set up, so you know what part of your day you need to devote to studying, and what part you have free for relaxing or exercising. 

It goes by too quickly

And finally, the old saying is true, college goes by way too quickly. Although it may feel like you’ll never fit in or meet people when you arrive as a freshman, by the time you leave you’ve made amazing memories, have a fun group of friends, and have learned a lot. Savor your years at college, and understand the effort you put into it now can benefit you in the future—in more ways than you might think!

Get excited for college, but go in knowing what to expect. Keep these tips in mind and see where your college experience takes you!