Dear College Freshman,
Just under two years ago I was finishing up my senior year of college…
It’s crazy to think that was four years ago! Man, does time fly. College had many positives and negatives, but overall, it was a blessed time.
One thing I wish I would have done before entering college was get some advice from people on what to expect, what to focus on, and what to avoid. So in this post, I’m going to share what I learned during (and after) college that I wish someone would have told me when I was in your situation.
First, meet a lot of people and make a lot of friends, but be close friends with only a handful. One of the best parts of college is making a lot of new friends from all around the world. If you meet a lot of people and make a lot of friends, your time the next four years will be A LOT more enjoyable. However, be CLOSE friends with only a handful. If you try to be close friends with everyone, you will be stressed out because all your different friend groups will want you to hang with them, and you’ll be pulled in many different directions. Be friends with and meet as many people as possible, but only go deep with a handful.
Second, think long term. Your time at college is short, and it will go by faster than you can imagine. Start thinking long term as soon as possible. What do I mean by long term? Career. Vocation. Who you are as a person (your character and habits). Friendships. Life AFTER college. All the things that will remain with you after you are done with classes, homework, and tests.
That is the purpose of college, anyways: To prepare you for life AFTER college.
I once heard a great quote in a book by Jeff Goins: “The habits you develop in college will be with you the rest of your life.” If you get drunk each weekend these next four years, don’t be surprised if you become an alcoholic after you graduate.
Build good habits and character now. Think NOW about what you want your life, legacy, and work to be after you graduate school. Don’t put it off to senior year.
Third, the best way to figure out what to do with your life is to experiment and explore. Try a lot of different vocations out, and do something that interests you. If you do something that interests you, you’ll always be engaged with your work. But you won’t know what truly interests you unless you explore ALL options and try them out.
When I started college, I wanted to be a youth pastor. Then, I wanted to be a clinical psychologist. And finally, after many years and months (during college) of exploraing and experimenting various possibilities – doing internships, talking to people in my industry, reading books, doing volunteer work, starting my own projects for fun – I realized that entrepreneurship and business is what I really cared about and wanted to do after college.
Crazy path, I know. But yours might be the same way. And the best way to know what to do with your life is to DO STUFF NOW before you graduate.
Don’t put off thinking about what to do with your life until senior year. Start now, experiment in little (and big) ways, talk to people older and wiser than you, and see what you like doing and what you don’t like doing.
Fourth, focus on developing skills that are valuable to the economy – don’t worry about grades. Yes, this might be hard to swallow right now, but the hard truth is that the only people who care about your grades in the real world are (a) your professors, (b) your parents, and (c) your grad school admissions counselors (if you decide to do grad school).
If you don’t plan to be hired by any of those people, focus on learning skills that are valuable to the economy. (NOTE: Philosophy is fun to learn about, but NOT valuable to the economy. Physical Therapy, Computer Programming, Accounting, Web Design, and other skills are valuable skills to learn.)
Some majors and classes should be studied JUST for fun and pleasure, but not pursued as a career. If you’re unsure of which majors are economically valuable and which ones aren’t, just look at the possible job opportunities after college. Are organizations hiring for those types of jobs? Are they in demand? Is it a needed skill in the real world, or just in academia?
Again, this is a hard truth to swallow, but it’s the truth. Better to learn it now than to learn it after you’ve graduated with a useless major, no skill set, and can’t find a job.
(NOTE: If you haven’t done this yet, don’t be discouraged; ACT NOW! Do all the stuff above NOW rather than NEVER. It’s not too late.)
Fifth, get intense, passionate, and serious about your life. No one is going to be more serious about your life, your legacy, or your work than you. Seek out inspiration from mentors, books, classes, friendships, family, and other places that will help motivate you to take your life seriously and not become lazy.
Life is a fun, awesome journey when you live intense and full of passion and excitement. But few people (that I’ve encountered) live life with enthusiasm and passion because they (a) don’t know themselves, their interests, or what they want their legacy and work to be, and (b) they’ve ignored their dreams and goals (or they don’t have any… which is just as tragic and sad).
Take the time to learn about yourself, your passions, your interests, your values, your dreams, and what you want your legacy to be. Keep ALL the options on the table, and don’t consider any goal impossible. When you do, you will realize all the opportunities before you, and all the potential God has given you (and the human race). These realizations will LIGHT YOU UP with passion, intensity, and enthusiasm for life.
Remember: The purpose of college is to prepare you for life after college. Having fun is just a byproduct of going to college; don’t make it your chief goal.
May your college years be fun, full of friendships, and full of discovery and purpose. And may your life, legacy, and relationships be 10x more fruitful because your college years were lived intentionally – not mindlessly.
– Roman L. Randall
P.S. …. Feel free to leave a comment or tweet me with any questions you have. I respond to each one and am more than happy to help you out any way that I can :)
P.S.S. If you want further guidance & wisdom for your college years, these three books helped me TREMENDOUSLY. I know they will do the same for you: