As I come into my junior year, I look back to the seemingly ancient days of my freshman year with fondness, amusement and a desperate desire not to repeat my mistakes. As a now-sagacious (heavy sarcasm) upperclassman, I have a few words of advice for those just coming into/coming back to college, displayed in the endearing top-10 list form that is supposed to grab your attention. Because everyone likes lists, right?

10. Taking less credits means more time later.

Twelve credits is considered full-time, but that full-time might take you longer than you planned. Most degrees try to have you graduate within four years, but the best-laid plans of mice and freshmen rarely come to fruition. Buy yourself some extra time down the road so you’re not like me, finishing math as a senior. Curse you, math.

9. Online classes are only as good as you make them.

Some people like them. Others hate them with a passion that I reserve for the Hub. The bottom line is that online classes make you in charge of nearly everything within the course, from reading to assignments and tests to learning the material. There is no option to simply not do something, because you’ll pay for it on that assignment and quizzes and tests connected to that one thing you decided not to do. If you’re responsible and judicious with your time and effort, online classes can save you a great deal of time. If you’re not (like me), they might sink your academic battleship.

8. Girls are scary.

I don’t care how big of a player you were in high school; college is a different game. No. 8 applies to all romantic excursions. You’ve jumped a league here, and the potential mates are more intelligent, more attractive and more likely to make you turn into an idiot the moment you try to talk to them. Things will work out, but allow yourself some time to learn how things work, and how to speak again when you are struck dumb by the bombshell in the union. It’ll be OK.

7. Find your classes before the first day.

While WSU has a pretty compact campus for a university, there are still 21 buildings on campus, not including dorms. That’s a lot of buildings to choose from when you’re hopelessly lost. If you walk your schedule the day before you get here, you won’t have a panic attack when you don’t know the difference between the TE and ET buildings. Find a friend, or GO TO ORIENTATION, and you’ll be fine. If you don’t, you might be hiking up to Lind Lecture Hall when your class was actually in the Social Sciences Building. Don’t do that.

6. Just because you can spend money doesn’t mean you should.

You’re on your own, you’re independent, and you have all of this new financial freedom that comes with this gig. One semester can take you from having a savings account to being in debt. Some people seem like they’re racing to see who can destroy their credit fastest. Spoiler alert: there’s no prize for doing so. Budget your money. You don’t need to eat in the Wildcat Room and have a Jamba every day. Make do with what you have and save for what you need. Going without now is better than going without later.

5. Figure out what you want to do, then do it.

It’s a tragic thing, but some students are in their fifth year of college and still haven’t decided what they want to major in. Not only does this tie in with No. 6, but it’s draining to go to school without an end objective. Changing once or twice is expected, but the sooner you can pick something and stick with it, the easier your life will get.

4. Look beyond college.

Ask the question “if I get this degree, what happens to my life?” Different jobs can drastically alter how a person lives, and before you get that job, you need to get a degree that supports it. If you like the study but don’t like the occupation, you have a problem. Begin with the end in mind. Inherent within this step is finding out what you really want to do with your life. That’s a process that can’t be put to a list. Best of luck.

3. Find a happy balance of involvement.

There is such a thing as being too involved! (Sorry, WSUSA.) Don’t let anything get in the way of your schooling. That’s why you’re here, not for parties or student groups. That being said, being involved also freshens up your academic life. If you just go to school, I would bet you money that I don’t have that you’d hate your college experience. So get involved! But don’t overextend yourself.

2. “Knowledge is power!” 

The motto of the “Schoolhouse Rock” series (a valuable tool for reviewing the long-lost basics of math, English and social studies) is very true. If you know how to register, apply for financial aid, take the right classes, and the endless number of things that you’ll learn how to do before you graduate, you’ll be ready to do things right the first time, often with more help than you would have had.

1. Work hard to enjoy your experience.

The most important thing you can do is have fun. I know that sounds cliche, but it’s the truth. If you work to enjoy your education, social life and whatever else you choose to do, you’ll be happy. I will be the first to say that it can become very easy to dread everything about college, but doing so only cripples your success in everything you do. Enjoy your time here. I have, and I won’t ever forget it.

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