In just 6 short days, I will be walking across a stage to acknowledge that I am a college graduate. Having come to this point in my life, there have been many experiences and insights I have gained from my undergraduate life. Here are some things that I would like to bestow onto the young blood who are just starting out their college career or are still lucky enough to have a few more years to carry out:
1) Pick the right major.
Entering college, I did what every other Asian, goal-oriented, parent pleasing kid would do - I majored in some type of biological science so I could pursue a medical career. For me specifically, I chose to major in nutrition. I faced the harsh reality that only a few talented, smart, dedicated, determine-driven, awesome-at-life individuals would be able to keep themselves sane through undergraduate college and go through harsher schooling later on for the medical field. Lower division chemistry is designed to filter those who can make and those who can’t. I was one of those that fell into the can’t make it category. But I kept trying because I thought I could get better at it, but after I kept getting my worst grades ever in my science classes, I decided I need a change. A change in life and literally, a change in major.
I ended up choosing Political Science with a minor in Psychology. Why did I choose this? Well, I realized that I actually enjoyed my AP US History and AP Government courses in high school. It was something I was good at and I’d able to get my degree with this. Now, while I really do enjoy all my classes and have become an expert in Western European Politics (ask me anything about the postwar settlement in France and Britain!), I do regret not majoring in something else more practical. The few political science friends I have are planning on doing some career in well, obviously, politics or going to law school. For me though, I can’t really see myself doing either of those. I learned a little too late that I was really interested in design and business. I regret not majoring in web design and learning html codes and writing codes and all that fancy snazzy stuff, and then majoring in something business-related like communications or econ to create my own Suzie’s Web Design Service or probably something more clever and catchy than that. But it’s okay, I still got a great education and I’ll find something to do…right?
Point of the story for this though: Pick a major that you are truly passionate about, but a practical one that you can see yourself being able to make a living off of. Do that as soon as possible because you don’t want to end up taking classes that you never had too…like Ochem or Bis2a or Math17b…sigh. Don’t make the same mistake as me!
2) Join a club.
The biggest influence of my college career has been joining the Vietnamese Student Association. Through this organization, I have met the best of friends, learned to become an optimal leader, and made some of my best memories of college. Clubs and frats and organizations are the best way to make friends. It’s difficult to make friends in classes because you see them for one quarter, and the next when you guys don’t take classes together anymore, it’s hard to maintain the friendship unless you really really really try. With clubs, you have meetings every week and events no matter what the quarter is so you get to constantly interact with the same people and meet new people too while you’re at it. College is a big scary place and become really lonely. But everyone is facing the same thing too, and it’s a lot less scarier with friends by your side. Putting yourself out there and finding a club will definitely help your social life and make you feel like you’re a part or something. It doesn’t even have to be a social club per se, it can be the Pharmacy Club, or the LOL club, or the K-pop club. Every club offers you a network of friendship and once you find the right one, you can’t help but love each and everyone of them. Shoutout to my VSA peeps <3.
^Oh this works for Greek Life too, if you’re into that.
3) Get a job.
If you go to a public university like me, you have about 34,155 undergraduates attending your school, give or take a few. Do you know how much manpower it takes to operate a school like that? That’s why there are a ton of student jobs offered on campus! Apply for anything from being a desk clerk, a bus driver, a research assistant or a burrito maker. On campus jobs are also a great resource to meet new people and build your professional self. Most of the time, your manager or supervisor is one of the school’s professional staff too so if you do a swell job, they are also great to ask for recommendation letters.
Jobs on campus are also really flexible with your school schedule so you’re able to work in between classes and ask for days off during midterms and finals. So instead of going to the library on Thursdays for your 2 hour gap planning to “study” but really just crushing candies on Facebook, you can spend those 2 hours making minimum wage inventory keys for dorms! Sounds fun right? I’d rather do that any day! (shoutout to my Tercero ASD desk clerks!) But really though, jobs are great to make extra money too because financial aid and parent’s money can only go so far, and Ramen gets tiring after the 3rd or 4th night in a row. Having money is nice to go out with your friends, buy nice clothes, and all those essential school supplies too.
It doesn’t even off to be on campus, jobs off campus are great too!
4) Party hard, but study harder.
Parties are great. Parties are fun. By party, I don’t necessarily mean those late night ragers at Avalon lounge, I also mean small kickbacks with your closest friends playing Cards Against Humanity and doing facial masks with your best girlfriends while watching Zac Efron movies and grabbing boba and talking about what you would do if Siracha was never invented. Because as long as you’re having fun, you are having a party. Having a social life is great, but learn to find that balance between going out every night and hitting the books every night.
Although you don’t want to be that one person that missed out on the Slidehill Park and Taco Bell adventure, you also don’t want to be the one that lowered the curve on the econ midterm (thank you to the person whoever does that, appreciate you so much!). Everyone’s midterm schedules are so different, so there will always be someone down to hang with you even when you have that 40% of the grade essay due the next day. Know when to say no to hanging out. But study your hardest and work your butt off so you can go out and have fun. Memories made in college are the best and you’ll find yourself reminiscing, remember that one time when we went from KFC, to Walmart and then straight to the clubs? #ratchet
5) Study abroad.
This is the number one thing I regret not doing while in college. College is your one chance to go to a whole different country for a somewhat discounted price with the help of financial aid, and live there! Do it! Because when you become an adult, you get older, you have commitments blah blah, it’s hard to find the time to travel! Do it while you can!
The reason why I personally chose not to study abroad was because I thought I would get too homesick. But I have friends that did study abroad (Hiiii Elaine), and they absolutely loved it. 10 weeks from home isn’t that bad, and you get to learn and explore and grow so much! It is seriously a once in a life time opportunity, so why not go?
I don’t have as much to say about this one since I never went, but I would’ve gone to Greece if I had the chance. But you, you right there, it’s not too late for you! Go study abroad!
6) Find your home away from home.
While going to school, I have met the best of friends who have become my second family. Who knew these people were out there for me? Someone that I can always talk to, someone that has my back, someone that knows me better than I know myself. Friends will come and go throughout college, but those who stick with you even after you made a fool of yourself at last night’s party are your true friends. I’m so thankful and blessed to have found my home away from home and I truly believe that everyone will eventually find theirs too. From what I have seen, sometimes it takes a while, but we all found those people that we just click with and they became your ride or die crew. Mine, you guys know who you are (Jen, Elaine, Will, David, Bryan), will always have a special place in my heart and I don’t know what college would’ve been without you. All my favorite memories in college all seem to feature at least one of you and I know you are going to the future Aunties and Uncles to my children. I’m glad we’re all sticking around this summer to have some final last memories together, so this better be the best damn summer ever!
If you have already found your best of friends, appreciate them for everything they are. Treasure every moment you have left because sadly, college doesn’t last forever. Try new things with do and adventure places that will make a funny story later.
If you haven’t already found your best of friends, they are out there and they are looking for you too! Be outgoing and put yourselves in situations to meet new people. You will find your homies and although at first you’ll hate those 100+ notifications you get from the group chat you all have, you’ll learn to love them because it helped you make plans for that epic taco night where you eat Japanese style on the ground with newspapers as a place setting because your apartment has no furniture.
Lastly, I want to thank you for reading down this far. Choose to take my advice or not. But make sure to live out college in your own way and make it best because real talk….#yolo.
*Thanks WQ and JT for giving me the idea for this blog ;)