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I’ve officially been home from college for 2 weeks and to say that everything’s different is probably the biggest understatement in the world.

Although I only went 2.5 hours away for school, it feels like it’s a whole other world when I compare it with my world here at home.

As someone who looked forward to college for years, I think it’s safe to say that my first semester has exceeded all expectations of what I thought college would be like.

Today, I’m here to share some of the lessons I learned after my first semester of college. Obviously these may vary depending on where you go but their overall themes should be quite similar.

Without further ado, here’s what I learned during my first four months at Quinnipiac University.

It’s okay to not be friends with the first group of people you met.

This one was really hard for me to come to terms with. I went into college with the mentality that I was going to find my “life-long best friends”. I was under the impression that everyone I met was this insanely cool human being and that they had the life-long friend potential. Boy, was I wrong! My current closest friends are all people I met along the way, whether it was in class or through other clubs on campus. I’ve realized how important it is to be open when it comes to making friends.

Professors are people too — and they’re very different from high school teachers.

I think this is something that’s so easy to forget because in college, that weird and awkward boundary between a student and their teacher begins to disappear. In high school, it’s considered taboo to spend time with your teachers outside of school and many are reluctant to share personal details with you. However, this is not the case at college, especially smaller institutions like mine. Professors are people too; they have a lot going on in their lives but will do anything to make sure you succeed if you reach out to them. Be nice to your professors, go to their office hours, thank them for a good grade or even at the end of the semester if you thoroughly enjoyed their class and get to know them. They’ll remember you and appreciate the time you took to get to know them.

You can never have too many pairs of headphones or too many phone chargers.

I have no idea what it is about college that does this but somehow, I either lost or broke every pair of headphones and every phone charger I brought with me. Your mom might think you’re crazy for bringing a dozen with you but seriously, ignore her and do it anyway. You won’t regret it.

You don’t have to go out and get intoxicated to have a good time.

I think this is one that’s looked over by many because there’s so much pressure to go out and get hammered every weekend and trust me, I get the temptation. College is stressful and the idea of letting go after a really rough week is one that seems ideal to us all. However, it’s so important to remember that while there’s nothing wrong with going out every once in awhile, there’s also nothing wrong with staying in, ordering takeout and watching your favorite movie with your friends. It’s easy to get caught up in the party scene but remember that it’ll all catch right back up to you at some point.

Grades matter and getting As is actually cool.

Maybe it’s because we’re all (for the most part) paying for school now but I’ve noticed that the stigma behind being a straight A student is completely gone in college. It’s actually pretty cool for someone to have a 4.0 and everyone strives to get good grades. Putting school first is rarely seen as a cop-out. Don’t forget, you’re at college first and foremost to go to school!

It’s possible to remain friends with people from high school.

This is something I never thought to be true because everyone kept telling me how much things were going to change between my friends and I when I moved away. However, this couldn’t be more incorrect. I actually got closer to some of my best friends from high school. Suddenly, you have each other to vent to about things going on at both home and at school. You know that they won’t be able to use any of the things you tell them against you because they go to school hundreds of miles away from you and honestly, sometimes, it’s just easier talking to people who have known you for a while than it is to talk to someone completely new about something that’s on your mind. It’s definitely possible to stay best friends with people you went to high school with; you just have to make the effort to keep in touch.

Put yourself first.

This may be self explanatory but it’s probably the most important thing I learned. Do what you want to do, put your health and happiness first and don’t let someone talk you into something. It’s so easy to get caught up in the fun and want to do anything and everything. But, the truth is that you can’t join every club and play every sport. You can’t go to every party and still make it to every class. Do what’s best for you; go out when you need a break, join a club that suits your interests and play a sport you love. College is, as aforementioned, about the grades but it’s also about the memories and you’ll make so many valuable ones if you continually do what’s best for you and not what’s best for everyone else.

I hope those of you who will be starting school in the fall are getting excited about it because I promise, it’s so much better than high school. Good luck to everyone awaiting acceptances, I’m sure you’ll all get into the perfect school for you.

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