Not only is college the scary part of your life where you’re supposed to magically figure out how you’re going to pay your postgrad cellphone bill; it’s the time when you become the person you’ll be for the rest of your life. As a senior, I’ve had my fair amount of coffee-induced panic attacks and sleepless nights, but in the last three years, I’ve transformed into someone I’m so proud of. Here’s how I learned the importance of planning ahead in college and a few of the lessons I learned along the way.

1. No one cares about your major.

Don’t feel obligated to be conventional. If I had a dollar for every confused look I get when I tell people I’m a women’s studies major, I wouldn’t need to work–ever. I hesitated for a year before changing my major to women’s studies because I worried what people would think. I worried that I would never be hired in the journalism industry, but having interned at USA Today and been offered a position with Turner Broadcasting, I can definitively say that no one cares about your major—they care about what you can do with it. Major in something you love and do what you love.

2. Say yes more than you say no.

…especially if you tend to shy away from scary-sounding opportunities. When I was a sophomore writing for the campus newspaper, the news editor asked me to be the administration reporter. I turned the job down, opting instead for the “softer” Greek beat. Little did I know that the administration beat is the first step on the path to the senior editor positions. I sold myself short, and I still regret not taking on the tougher assignment.

3. Be smart about opportunities.

If you’re anything like me, it will be tempting to throw yourself into every possible opportunity. But they’re everywhere and you can either choose wisely or spread yourself too thin too quickly. When weighing an opportunity, consider whether you really want to do it or if you’re just looking to add a line to your resume.

4. Don’t discount your health.

Maintain a regular exercise routine and avoid fried food and excessive alcohol when you can. Not only will you avoid the freshman 15, but you’ll also have a healthy way to relieve stress when things get tough. This is something that will remain useful for the rest of your life.

5. Plan for spontaneity.

This is for all you Type A’s out there. It’s tempting to have every minute of your life planned out. Resist that urge even if it means scheduling free time. It’s when you wander off to a weird art exhibit or explore your college town alone that you bump into versions of yourself you never imagined existed, and that’s what college is for.

What are some things you wish you’d known in college?

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