No matter how experienced, smart or wise beyond your years you may think you are, you don't know everything when you get to college. In fact, you really know almost nothing. The years you spend here are the ones where you (hopefully) learn to be truly independent, forge meaningful adult relationships and figure out just how far you can push boundaries before you totally muck everything up. So that means you're going to make some bad decisions. Probably a lot of them. Here are some words of wisdom our current selves would love to give our college selves, to help us avoid some of the pain, embarrassment and hassle that comes with the inevitably stupid things we did when we thought we had it all under control.
Dear younger Colin: Don't open a credit card for a free Bob Marley T-shirt. If you have roommates, only have one dish each. Seriously, one bowl, one spoon, everything. Keep a towel in your car to drape over yourself when eating fast food – Taco Bell tomatoes will eventually fall under your driver's seat and never find their way out. Never buy textbooks. Every book you need is in the library or online in PDF form. If it's an old volume, it doesn't matter. Wash your sheets. Call your mom. Stop changing your major. In fact, just drop out. Invent Google. – Colin Wolf
You know that girl you were dating in high school? Don't try and continue that nonsense into college. Seriously, just let it go. She's going to cheat on you with some chiseled-jaw douchecake, and you don't want any of the fallout you're about to experience from that. I know, I know: You only live an hour away. It's not like you're going to college in Zimbabwe. You're good-looking and you have a bright future with a solid 401(k) and medical benefits. Kick her to the curb and take over the world. – Adam McCabe
Learn to type super fast. Hit "save" every five minutes. And back. Up. Everything. Don't sweat your major; just soak up as much knowledge as you can. It's a treat, and you're paying for it, so revel in it. Don't dress a certain way or go to a certain place just because everyone else wears that or goes there. Follow your own curiosity – you'll meet people who are better suited to real friendships than the people you meet by imitating the crowd. Work hard on the project, not the excuse. When you realize you're going to be five minutes late to class, don't turn around and go home – keep walking. Kudos to younger me: One thing you did right was always have at least one job besides schoolwork. Learning to be accountable and earning your own money from the jump was a smart move. – Jessica Bryce Young
You got to college and it was not a big shift. That should've told you immediately that you were doing it wrong. Seek change, and don't be so scared, silly. You're not really that good at anything yet. If you like what you're creating, you're probably blind to its weaknesses. You'll blush about it later. That's not the bad part. The bad part is questioning the value of that past pride. Avoid unproductive nitpicking – these glaring flaws can inform you. Now and then, and before and later, too. Let the past be funny. Leave what's coming to smarter future you and be cool now. Oh, and don't take the a.m. shift at the tutoring lab. That's just unrealistic. – Ashley Belanger
Don't be a serial dater – none of the guys you go out with now are going to last. Learn to be single and enjoy it, and don't ever keep dating a guy because you feel bad dumping him. Just do it and get it over with. It's way less painful than the weeks or months you'll spend dragging that shit out. Drink more water and less beer. Don't listen to Phish. Don't move into a house with five roommates – the drama will almost kill you. Don't take out that extra loan for living expenses if you don't really need it – that money will come back to haunt you later. Be OK with spending time alone – it'll give you time to learn what you really like to do. Stop trying to decide whether to pursue your master's degree now or later. Do it now – you are definitely not going to find the time later. Take it from me – I know. – Erin Sullivan
Hey college me, I'll wait for you to wipe away the drool from the nap you're taking on that bench. I know that right now you hate college and are exhausted from memorizing the wonders of media law last night. But you're going to miss something about this thing they call a university in the middle of the swamp. First, you're never going to have that many Starbucks that close to one another in one place again. You'll miss summer vacation, the sucky football team and telling the pastors in the plaza trying to convert you to f**k off. College you isn't your final form, baby girl. – Monivette Cordeiro