A recent college grad shares her insight.

By Irene Bunnell

graduationI am a very recent graduate of Binghamton University and currently in the phase of my life where I spend all day applying for jobs. Yes, I’m in the “real world” now. This is the phrase that all college kids dread hearing. We all used to cry constantly about how close the “real world” was getting and how we never wanted to leave the bubble we lived in, where everyone around us was our own age, and we had a different schedule every day.

However, the inevitable has come. Though I learned an incredible amount while I was in school, now that my college career is over, I can look back and say there were a few things I wish I’d known before I entered the best four years of my life (so far).  Here are just a few of them:

If your GPA drops, it will not bounce back up Pay attention here, freshmen. If you spend your freshman year not really worrying about your grades, you will spend the rest of college trying to raise your GPA.

The more classes you take, the less any one class can affect your GPA, and by your junior and senior years, there is only so much movement your GPA can handle.  If you are aspiring to have a glowing GPA to put on your resume or grad school application, better start right away.     

Experience matters Of course I mean get experience for your resume, go out and join clubs and groups, and try to get internships and jobs. But I also mean that fun experiences matter.

College will only last four years (hopefully), and you don’t want to spend all your time studying and working. Sometimes you need to save the homework for later, and go enjoy yourself. Make new friends, because some of them might become your friends for life.

It is a balance, but don’t tip the scale either way.  Make time for schoolwork, but make time for friends, too.

pathCollege towns are cool Don’t just spend all your weekends with your friends doing whatever college kids normally do. Try and branch out and see what the town has to offer. You might discover some really fun outdoor activities, such as hiking trails or parks, or an interesting museum.

There might be an amazing local restaurant that you’ll visit as a weekly tradition just so you can have it as many times as possible before you must leave that town. You’ll regret not doing this earlier when you find somewhere awesome your senior year and you can’t believe how much time you wasted not visiting this place.

Time flies I got a taste of this in high school. I felt like senior year flew by, and so did all of high school. I remember thinking, Wasn’t I a freshman pretty recently?  How have I completed all of high school?

But college goes even faster. I’m pretty sure that a month ago I was wearing the graduation gown for my high school, when in reality that was the graduation gown for my college. College will go by so quickly you’ll barely know what hit you.

Enjoy every moment because after you’ll feel incredibly nostalgic for every second you spent at that school. Make sure you give yourself some really great memories.

College may seem like a scary place before you go, but by the end it will be the most comfortable place you know. Good luck seniors: those entering the difficult and scary, yet amazing life that is college, and to those who are entering the “real world” with me.

Thanks, Irene. Readers please feel free to share your own advice in the comments section below.