Advice from Sally: What I wish I had known before starting college


Photo by Changbok Koon Unsplash

Empty classroom in University of Seoul.

Hey Seahawks! Today I would like to talk about some things I wish I had known before starting college. This past year has redefined the college experience for many of us; seniors are going to have a virtual commencement ceremony, and students have adapted to classes over Zoom. With that being said, here are some things I wish I would have known before I started college.

How to use Zoom

Before orientation, I didn’t even know what Zoom was. As someone who is not particularly tech-savvy, I had a learning curve to tackle to figure out how Zoom calls work. Where is the mute button? How do I raise my hand? How do you get those cool backgrounds to work? Granted, I still haven’t figured out backgrounds, I am proud to say that I have improved my Zoom skills. Truth be told, I actually like Zoom classes. I appreciate how convenient it is to be able to log off of a class and not have to run somewhere else for the next one. I feel that Zoom also makes it easier to be connected to campus life if you are not living in the dorms this semester.  It provides us with the opportunity to interact with other students and to meet with our professors no matter where we are. If you still have questions about Zoom, check out this video and the sequel.

Professors are people too

During my first semester, I was nervous about reaching out to my professors. I thought they would be annoyed by my questions or would find my opinions trivial. This is one thing that I could not have been more wrong about. Our professors are people like us. They are passionate about the subjects they teach and enjoy sharing that passion with others. They have interests in things beyond the classroom and genuinely care about their students. They truly get excited when talking about how cool a student’s project is. I wish I would have known how personable they can be—like when my Latin professor led a discussion about which “Terminator” movie is best, or when my English professor paused his weekend plans to help me out with something that was unrelated to his class. I didn’t expect professors to be so incredibly open and willing to help their students, whether it be with a question about class or a question about life in general. If I could share only one piece of advice with a new student, it would be this: talk with your professors, and don’t be afraid to reach out to them if you need help!

Don’t underestimate your homework

Confession: I am not the best at time management. Sometimes I am unable to accurately predict how much time it will take for me to get something done, whether it be getting ready to leave for dinner or an assignment for class. This is not ideal when juggling multiple classes. I wish I would have known from the beginning the sheer amount of time it would take for me to get my homework done. I still tend to underestimate the amount of time an assignment requires, but I have learned ways to combat that. on the class, I try to set aside at least a couple of hours for every hour I spent in. I modify that as needed: some classes only require about a half-hour set aside for homework. If I was giving a new student advice, I’d say to make sure you set aside plenty of time for homework. Don’t forget to make a plan! It will be likely to forget a chapter that was supposed to be read or a summary that needed to be written. Your plan can be as simple as writing a to-do list or it can be as detailed as a bullet journal or planner.

Explore other classes and interests

I have had an idea of what to major in for a long time. I knew what I liked and what I did not like, so I just figured I would continue studying the subjects I enjoyed throughout college. Then I came across the course catalog. There are so many classes, so many subjects and sadly, so little time. Don’t be afraid to try out a class in a subject that you are not planning to major in because it just might surprise you. I’ve heard so many stories about people taking an elective just to get a credit and it turns out to be their favorite class or even their major. For me, that class turned out to be Latin! I love the challenge that translating texts give. I took Latin as one of my required core courses, but it has become a subject that I would love to continue studying in the future. Since I took that class, I am considering a minor in classics. I would highly recommend that you try a course that is outside of your comfort zone or in a subject that you’ve always wanted to learn more.

The same goes for your time out of the classroom! There are so many clubs and student organizations on campus. These are great ways to meet other students and learn about new things. There is a club for everything, from bees to surfing to a cappella singing. There’s even a super-cool student-run newspaper called The Seahawk (If you’d like an overview of all the clubs, check out Wavelink here.)!

Enjoy this time

A senior I was chatting with the other day had this advice: “Treasure this time because it flies by. You’ll look back at all the days and won’t remember a single one of the bad days.” In the beginning, I  didn’t understand just how fast a semester would zoom on by. It felt like it was over in the blink of an eye! This spring semester has been no exception—it is hard to believe that we are already a third of the way done. So,  don’t forget to treasure this time, the people you meet and the memories you make.

College is a special and unique time for many people, and there are lots of lessons we learn along the way. I’m grateful that I have not only gained a deeper understanding of the topics my classes have gone over, but also the things I went over in this article such as exploring more course options and taking time to meet my professors.  Is there any advice that you wish you could give to yourself before you started college? Let us know!