3 Years Post-Grad: What I Wish I Knew Before Attending A University

The reality of my little sister soon getting her acceptance letters from the colleges she applied to inspired me to write everything I wish an older sibling (if I had one) or a mentor (I don’t count campus counselors) told me when I was 17.

As I’m writing this, I know some people try to start their career or gain experience via internships, seasonal jobs, etc. then decide to get a degree to help them in the field they’re interested in. I feel like there’s absolutely NOTHING wrong with starting higher education years after high school. Taking the time to figure out exactly what you want and where you want to be will save you lots of time and money. From finances to making some Big Girl choices, here’s everything I wish I knew before attending college:

+ Your worth and intellect is not determined by the universities you get into. I gave myself so much sh*t for getting rejected from the UC’s I applied to because a UC was viewed as “better” than a state school. News flash: We all come out of there with our Bachelor’s Degree. It’s what you do with that degree and the resources you use that will get your foot in the door. Like many, I graduated with debt, but like many, I won’t have to pay as much as I would have if I attended a UC…I’m talking thousands here.

+ Unlike your ex, your degree is the one thing in life that will never leave you. A mentor and counselor of mine in high school was actually the first person to shed light on this. Unlike many material things, your degree is something that literally cannot be taken away. It will consistently be the one thing in your life that will be something to rely on and get your foot in the door…With all of the layoffs and misfortunes that COVID has brought in the past year, I will say that having a degree has helped my colleagues so much in finding a job more quickly than others and really puts you at an advantage.

+ With that being said, College isn’t for everyone. If my Dad is reading this, he’s probably puking as we speak…but I said what I said. I truly do not think college is for everyone. If your dream and goal doesn’t necessarily require you to have a degree…why waste the time and money? Now…again, it sure does help in A LOT of aspects to have that gnarly rewarding piece of paper…and the skills you learn along the way come in hand professionally.

+ College is more than a textbook. It will teach you more about yourself than you think. The biggest difference between high school and higher education, is that instead of being FORCED to complete your education, you’re doing this for you. Along the way I learned a lot of discipline, knowing how to balance having fun and starting my career…because you won’t be sent to the principal’s office…or be suspended from school if you don’t attend. You are solely responsible for your success and all that time and money spent will be on you, no one else. I will also add that it’s a crucial time for your social skills to develop. You learn how to speak and write professionally and how to network efficiently…resources you don’t necessarily have access to on a regular basis without school.

+ Having a financial plan is CRUCIAL. Don’t just wing it. I sort of had a plan and sort of didn’t. My plan was to take out loans…like many of us do. I WISH I had someone help me lay out a more specific and detailed financial plan for four years of college before attending. Like many of us in the middle class do, I took out loans since I didn’t qualify for grants…BLINDLY. I took enough in loans to cover my tuition and books…which is exactly what it did. However, I didn’t start working and saving until my third year so I definitely graduated with debt to pay. Debt is the devil and so is interest. It is not fun and had I found a financial mentor or knew to have one at some point in college, I probably would have graduated with less debt.

I know this wasn’t as short and sweet as I thought it would be, but it’s real and raw. Like I said, this is all just based on my experience and a few other’s that I think I would have appreciated hearing at the time.

And to my little sister…

*Kris Jenner voice* You’re doing amazing, sweetie.

xx, Bri.

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