5 Things I Wish I Had Figured Out in College

College Candy is a site that never fails to fascinate me. Written by and for current college students, it chronicles their lives and loves, their woes, their learning processes. I read it in order to find out what the kids are up to these days, but mostly, I read it to think about what a fuck-up I was in college and reprimand myself. What can I say? It’s a hobby.

Anyway, today finds me reading the anecdotes of a 21-year-old (at most) who is figuring out that just because you’re single, it doesn’t mean you have to have one-night stands with guys from every other college within a 300-mile radius be on the prowl all the time.

That’s a lesson that I can safely say I didn’t learn until I was about 26…if at all. In fact, I was on the prowl when I met my now-fiancee.

But this girl sounds well-adjusted, thoughtful, and as if she’s spending some quality time learning about the person she wants to be. Sure, I liked my college experience, and I’m happy with my life now, but I sometimes wonder what would have happened if I had spent less time drinking at bars in downtown New York and worrying about whether or not I looked cool (I didn’t), and more time figuring myself out when I was in college.

Here are five other things I wish I had learned earlier on:

  1. Know your passions. Even if you don’t do anything with them professionally, your passions define you. College is about finding them.
  2. “A shot of vodka” is not a respectable signature drink. Especially when that vodka comes out of a plastic bottle.
  3. A good winter coat is worth the splurge. Surprisingly, it took me moving from New York to Los Angeles and returning home to the east coast for winters in the years since to really drive this point home. I could have saved myself a lot of chilly walks.
  4. Frat boys are not worth the splurge. Since my college didn’t really have fraternities, I found frat boys to be curious and attractive oddities, remnants of long-gone versions of collegiate masculinity with broad shoulders and adorable baseball hats. Suffice it to say, I dipped my “toe” in this “pool” many times and it wasn’t until, years later, I began meeting 30-something frat boys in bars that I realized that frat is a way of life…one which should be avoided by me.
  5. Other women are just as self-conscious as you. When I was in college, I was convinced that every other woman in the room had self-confidence in spades, much more so than me. I eventually learned that this was far from the truth, but the sooner you learn this lesson the more genuine your interactions with other women become. And it’s never too soon for that.
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    • Lilit Marcus

      I cannot emphasize #2 enough. When I sucked it up and bought a nice coat, I ended up saving money on cabs and warm drinks.

    • Michelle

      Although I totally agree with number 1, I’m close to getting my bachelor
      s degree in criminal justice and I don’t even know what my real passion is besides wanting to do entertainment. Although I just realized this in my 4th year of college, it’s at least a good transition to what I want my masters in, broadcast journalism or public relations.

    • Emma

      I only graduated 8 months ago but already there are some things I regret. Well, one thing really.

      Not figuring out that I was gay! I just want to yell at myself 1-4 years ago; “you know you’re gay. You’re going to have to deal with it eventually. Just face it now!”

      Looking back, college would’ve been much more fun knowing that…

    • Shelley

      Maybe that is finding yourself and your passions. It was for me! Love you Jessica (in a respectful way from a distance, not at all stalky or creepy) mainly for your great writing but some for the gratuitous fbombs.

    • Steph

      I realize I enjoyed college more by just making lots of friends–and not worrying about dating, mostly. Dating is fun, until you dump/get dumped by love interest. Then you’re angry and/or angst about it and annoy all your wonderful, fun loving friends who put up with your drama. If I did it again, I would totally swear off any dating, hook-ups or anything involving hormones sort of crap until I got out of college. Just do the schoolwork and hang with all my friends, male and female and have fun doing the interactive camraderie of doing normal, silly stuff like going out to eat at McD’s or go the Wal-Mart at three in the morning or study at the IHOP together as a group that you really only get a chance to do with crazy fun people in college.

    • Maya

      I am so sorry I don’t read this site more often. It is so funny and smart AND cute. Though these are not stuff I needed to learn. If anything I shoud have “dipped my toe” more often. But live and learn, right! :-)


      + + + + + + + + + + + + + +

    • Kristen

      I’m sorry that you have such a skewed opinion of Greek life, but #4 is a ridiculous over-generalization. Think of how many fraternities there are and how many members there are in a chapter at many schools. They aren’t ALL like your description. Many prominent and respected men (and women) participated in Greek life during their undergrad years, and they managed to turn out alright.