When you're making college decisions, it never hurts to talk to students who have gone through the process before. Therefore, Cappex has spoken to real college graduates to tell you what they wish they knew when they were freshmen.
Timothy Griffin, Marist College – Put a greater focus on fewer activities
"I think the thing I most wish I realized as a freshman is that there's a limit as to how many activities you can reasonably do.
Between classes, parties, activities, internships and homework, there's only so much time. I joined a TON of clubs my freshman year, and tried to stick with them instead of focusing on one or two.
Because of that, I didn't really have enough time to actually be a part of them. When you're putting together a resume, it's great to show that you worked at the school newspaper, radio station and television station and five other clubs. But unless you can actually get something substantial to show from them, it's better to get some sleep once in a while."
Gordie Smith, Hamilton College – Focus on the skills you want to gain
"College is definitely an exploratory time, especially at a liberal arts school, but I wish as a freshman I had more of a clear and specific idea WHY I was going to college and what I wanted to get out of it in terms of skills and knowledge – that way I could have better focused the classes I took to match up with it."
Cara Spilsbury, University of New Hampshire – It's all about who you know
"I wish someone had told me that, in order to get my dream career, my grades, my schoolwork, everything was secondary to making connections. The saying 'it's all who you know' couldn't be more true. While I was busting my butt in class trying to get straight A's, I should have been out networking like crazy with people in my industry. I have been on about 100 job interviews, and not one person has asked me about my grades or my GPA. I have, however, been connected to most of those interviews through people I have met in both professional and social settings throughout my career."
Rebecca Bakken, Western Michigan University – Make decisions for yourself, not for others
"Looking back, I wish I had known myself better when entering college. As an adult, I've grown to see the importance of introspection and how it can help guide the decisions I make. When I was 18, however, I think I made many of my decisions based on other people – my friends and parents, namely. As a result, I switched schools and majors and ended up taking slightly longer to graduate. While it worked out for me in the end, I think it's important for high school seniors to take some time and think about what it is that they ultimately want out of life before entering their critical college years. Also, remember to have fun!"