20 Things I Learned In College | 2020 Grad

Let's take things back to August 2017-- that's when I started my college career.  And, that's when this train of lifelong learning truly began. I learned about brain communication, developmental patterns, sensation and perception, among many other psychological disciplines. Additionally, I learned about topics related to courage, love, and personal development.


1. Don't call your mom the "Worst Mom Ever" in the middle of Panera Bread.

Story Time: During my senior year of high school, my mom encouraged me to tour Cabrini University. I did not want to go. It was a school I never heard of and I had my mind made up on attending Ursinus College. She made the arrangements anyway. Once I found out, I cried in the middle of Panera Bread and called her the Worst Mom Ever. Needless to say, I ended up loving it. So, thank you, Best Mom Ever.

2. Strengthening integrity plays a key role in personal development and growth.

There are so many college experiences that helped me establish my moral principles.

3. Let your genuine self shine.

Dating in high school is very different from dating in college. In high school, I often dated boys who wanted me to be something or someone else. One boy tried to push his beliefs down my throat. He nearly suffocated me. It was very difficult for me to develop my own thoughts, let alone have him accept me for who I was and am. Don't let anyone change you.

4. You get out what you put in.

If you're not completing the optional homework and meeting with your professors during their office hours, there is only so much you can get out of a class. You need to go the extra mile to get everything out of it.

5. It's okay to ask for help.

Following up on the fourth lesson I learned in college, it is definitely okay to ask for help. In high school, math and me... well we were never on the same page. There were so many times I needed help, but feared asking for it because I didn't want my peers to think I was dumb.

Teachers/Professors are there to help you. They want you to come to them with questions. I went to my statistic professor's office hours at least 15 times throughout the semester for assistance on my portfolio. She was a huge help! I walked out feeling so much more confident. (And, for those of you wondering,  I did finish with an A-- my first A ever in a math course.)

6. Go to the Writing Center-- even if you think your paper is perfect.

I went to the Writing Center on a number of occasions. There is bound to be a grammatical error in a 10+ page assignment. Having another set of eyes look over your paper is a huge help. At the end of the semester, I would take all of my big assignments to the Writing Center at once.

7. Step out of your comfort zone. 

I'm not much of a public speaker, but when the opportunity arose for me to present at The Southeastern Pennsylvania Consortium for Higher Education, I couldn't resist. I presented my paper, The Impact of Immigration on Mental Health. I ended up inspiring many individuals to take part in a trip to Washington, D.C. to advocate for comprehensive immigration reform. Go share what you're passionate about!

8. Start paying on your student loan early.

I am beyond blessed to say that my parents paid for my undergraduate degree. However, I have some loans that need to be paid off-- and I have already started paying them. A huge weight has been lifted off of my shoulders.

9. Call mom and dad.

Mom and dad are always just a phone call away. Heck, when I lived on campus, my dad worked less than 10 minutes away. We would meet up for lunch from time to time. I'd call them whenever I needed advice on how to handle an awkward situation or guidance on a research paper. They were always there to guide and support me.

10. Remember to take time for yourself.

When I lived on campus, it was really hard for me to take time for myself. There was always someone in my room-- if not 10 people. Find a place on campus where you can emerge in some self-care time. I found a study lounge in the basement of my building. It was rarely occupied. I'd bring a few snacks and watch Netflix in peace. (I'd also study down there if I needed a space to spread out all my materials.)

11. Buy your books used. 

Or, if they're not for your major, rent them. I used to order my books from Barnes and Noble Marketplace. The books were super cheap. Some of the books I needed for my English class were less than $3. It's a shame the website shut down.

12. Attend events.

Free food. Need I say more?

13. Invest in a professional wardrobe.

And, do it on a college budget. You never know when you're going to have to attend an event or have an interview. Keep a pair of dress slacks and a blazer handy. 90% of my business attire is from Kohl's. They have an amazing clearance rack! I've gotten dress pants for $5 and blazers for $6. Sign up for their emails for awesome coupons. (Not sponsored!)

*Update: Burlington and Ross have been having AMAZING deals. I will be doing a haul in the near future.

14. Quality over quantity.

Always. No matter what. Assignments. Friends. Term papers.

15. Your career goals might not turn out the way you planned.

Going into college, I had aspirations of becoming a therapist. However, once I started taking my classes, I realized I wanted to be an immigration psychologist. Now, I've had the opportunity to volunteer with at-risk youth and work as a part-time preschool teacher. Those experiences have allowed me to develop my true career goals of becoming a teacher. This fall, I will be teaching 5th grade at a private school. My background in psychology will help me create lesson plans around brain development and functioning. #IAmSoExcited

16. Take a class on happiness.

My favorite honors course that I took was on happiness. We talked about what it means to be happy, how to become happy, etc. It turns out college students are the most depressed individuals in our population. Crazy, right? This class has given me the knowledge and tools I need to be happy for the rest of my life.

17. Do whatever you want.

If you want to move to Florida, do it. Don't let anyone-- or anything, hold you back. Go after your dreams. That's one of the steps to pursuing lifelong happiness.

18. Don't forget to do the fun things.

Balancing a blog, academic coursework, and volunteer gigs left me with little time to do the fun things. My boyfriend was the absolute sweetest and would create fun things for us to do around my busy schedule. On several occasions, he would surprise me with takeout from Chili's or Panera Bread and we would have a picnic at a local park. We'd play music, talk, and dance. It was a wonderful distraction from my busy life. No matter how busy you are, make time for the people you love.

19. You can do anything you set your mind to.

With a growth mindset, of course. And, professors that challenge and push you. And, parents that love and support you.

20. I can say, "I lived." 

I made everlasting friendships. I went to Washington, D.C. and advocated for comprehensive immigration reform. I fell wholeheartedly in love. I walked for immigration rights. I went to Walt Disney World with my best friend. I volunteered for an organization that promotes growth for at-risk migrant children. I graduated with the Honors Program. I presented my paper, "The Impact of Immigration on Mental Heath" at the annual SEPCHE Conference. I moved to Lakeland, Florida. I got my first job as a preschool teacher. I was inducted into four honor societies. I graduated with Summa Cum Laude-- the top 1% of my class.

I owe it all to my parents. They have been my biggest supporters since Day 1. My dad has edited and edited and edited every paper-- even my 50 page research paper. My mom has helped me with every project. They have both guided and supported me in the decisions I have made. They have helped me land my first full-time job as a 5th grade teacher. I am beyond excited to start my future career.