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10 Lessons I Learned in College

Things You Won't Learn in a Textbook

By Danika Good
On February 24, 2016

Photo by Rodney Latham

It is safe to say that I have gained my fair share of knowledge during my 4 years in college. Yes, I learned some stuff in my classes, but that's not what I'm talking about. Most of the lessons I truly value didn't come from a classroom but from my experiences and mistakes. I promise you will not leave here the same person you entered as. But it's supposed to be that way. Live and learn, or YOLO, or whatever cliché phrase you prefer.  

So, as a senior who is about to graduate, I am here to share a part of my wealth of knowledge gained while college-ing.  

1. College is what you make it.  

Countless times I have heard people complain about how Ottawa is boring and there's nothing to do. I, however, disagree with this. Yes, the town itself doesn't have that much entertainment. But you know that student benefit fee you pay? That's not just an extra $1,000 added to your tuition for no reason. That provides funding to give you things to do! There is at least one campus event and one resident hall event per week. You pay $1,000 per year to be able to participate in these, so why would you waste it? These activities (free movies, late night breakfast, life-size hungry hippos, intramurals) are open to every student, whether you live on or off campus. Go enjoy them! 

2. High school is over. Move on from the drama. 

Some people are still so caught up with what others think of them. Constantly checking Yik Yak for the mention of your name of your teammates only gives you unnecessary worries. Truthfully, most Yik Yak posts come from a small group of people who think they can hide behind a phone screen and start drama to make their lives more interesting. Kudos to the people who actually post positive and funny things on there. My advice: Delete Yik Yak and go make some new friends at a campus event.  

3. The caf sucks, but sometimes it's better than cooking.  

Everyone complains about the caf, but honestly, what we have now is way better than the pre-remodeled cafeteria from 2 years ago. There is always at least one edible option at all times of the day now. Appreciate that. I remember days of living off the salad and cereal bars in the old caf. Plus, now that I live in an apartment and have to actually cook meals after practice, sometimes I really miss that convenience.  

4. It's OK to have a breakdown.  

Truthfully, I am not a crier, and I used to take pride in my ability to manage stress and time and still get straight A’s. Well, that was high school. If there is anything I have learned during my time as a student-athlete, it is that you will most likely not get all A's. You will have more things in your schedule than you have time for, and it is OK to cry about it. That being said, don't sulk in the fact that you think your life is falling apart. Cry about it, then get it together and figure out what is most important for you to accomplish to avoid failing. I promise you can do it. 

5. The community of a small campus is irreplaceable.  

Last year was tough for me. Between three deaths and one hospitalization of some very close friends, I would have struggled a lot more without the support of the people on this campus. I realized that I don't just have close friends in my teammates and classmates but also on the faculty and staff of the school. Not many people who attend large schools can say that they can rely on school staff in tough times. Our entire campus is not just a community, but a family. How could you not love something like that? If you are ever struggling with something, don't be afraid to reach out to someone. There is a whole campus of people just waiting to help you out!  

6. You'll have good roommates and good friends, but they aren't always the same people.  

I was lucky enough to be randomly paired with my first roommate, and we are still best friends and roommates 4 years later. I know that not everyone gets that lucky, though. Some people can get along really well, but once they try to live together, they end up hating each other. Not everyone is able to live together just because they are friends. Just don't let a bad living arrangement ruin a good friendship.  

7. It's OK to hang out with people outside of your sports team.  

Ottawa University is really bad about this. I never thought college would be clique-y. I don't really mean clique-y in a bad way, but people don't venture from their team very much. Get out there and hang out with other people. I promise their teams are just as nice as yours! 

7 1/2. BUT it is better to have a few great friends than tons of kind-of friends. 

That being said, high school seemed to be all about how many friends you had. You were probably more "popular" if you had more friends. In college, no one cares about popularity, and having tons of friends doesn't make you "cool." While it's good to have connections to a variety of people on campus, you can't beat your few closest friends. Find who you can really trust and don't let them go. They will likely be lifelong friends.  

8. A night in with best friends is usually more fun than a night out surrounded by strangers.  

Some people think that the best way to enjoy college is by going out all the time, or constantly spending money to do something awesome. But let's be honest: You are a college student, most likely involved in something like sports or theater. You are already paying more than $30,000 a year to go here. While going out with friends is fun sometimes, staying in with best friends can be just as fun. It doesn't have to cost a thing, and you don't have to get dressed up. Sometimes you just can't beat quality bonding time.  

9. It's OK to say no.  

On a small campus like Ottawa, there are so many opportunities to get involved in clubs and activities. Just learn your limit and know how much you can handle. It is OK to say no to someone when you feel like you can't take on one more thing. The last thing you want to do is cause another one of those breakdowns I was talking about. 

10. College is awesome, so enjoy it while you can.  

So many people can't wait to get out of college. Once junior and senior years hit, it is easy to get caught up with plans for the future and forget to enjoy what is left of college. Ask anyone who is already "adulting." Most of them will say that their college years were without-a-doubt the best years of their life. Don't waste that by trying to rush into the future. You have the rest of your life to work and sleep. Pull an all-nighter, go to concerts, make a few stupid decisions, enjoy your life. You're running out of time to use "college" as an excuse for your life decisions.

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