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.