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11 Lessons You’ll Learn the Hard Way in College

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College has been the period of the most growth I’ve ever experienced in my life. I had a lot of ups and downs but mainly a lot of learning opportunities.

Here are 10 of the most important lessons I’ve learned in college, and lessons you’ll learn too.


1. You’ll grow apart from some people

Everyone is friendly during their freshman year because it’s a new beginning for everyone. People are naturally open to making more friends during this time so you may end up making friends or acquaintances with a lot of people.

However, by your sophomore year, or even your second semester during freshman year, people will naturally settle into their friend groups.

That’s not to say you can’t still make friends at this point. What it means is that by this time you realize who you get along with better and you naturally get closer to these people.

By your senior year, you’ll probably only talk to about 1-3 of your friends from freshman year (if any).

I only talk to one of my friends from freshman year. I’ve grown apart from everyone else. There’s not necessarily bad blood between us or anything, but I guess you can say we just drifted in different directions.

But I’ve made new friends and formed genuine friendships and you will too!


2. Don’t hold on to people/situations that hold you back

Chances are, you’re definitely going to have a “friend” or person you meet in college that hinders your grown and/or brings out the worst in you. It’s important to be able to realize these toxic relationships and break free from them so you don’t end up going down the wrong path.

The truth is, whether you realize it or not, a toxic friendship/relationship has the potential to deter you from your goals and turn you into a bad person.

If your “friends” don’t cheer for you when you win, they’re not your friends. If they convince you that something you’re pursuing isn’t important or make you feel like it’s okay to push things back, they’re not acting in your best interest. And if they encourage you to handle situations immaturely, you definitely need to get rid of them.

The only people you need in your life are people that bring out the best in you. Don’t make any room for people who don’t.


3. Don’t waste time dwelling on the past – you can’t change it

The biggest waste of your time is dwelling on the past and the biggest waste of your energy is regret.

You can’t change anything that has already happened. Learn from it and move on.

That is honestly the only thing you can do. If you don’t learn from your mistakes you’re doing yourself a disservice by running the risk of that situation happening again.

Everyone makes mistakes and everyone makes stupid decisions. It’s part of being human.


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4. Don’t procrastinate!

I bet you feel a little triggered by this one, don’t you? Don’t worry, I’m guilty of this too.

You may be trying to convince yourself that you work better under pressure, just like I am. But in reality, your life will be much easier if you start getting things out of the way sooner than later.

Slowly, but surely, I’ve been getting things out of the way early and it’s been amazing! Binging on Netflix after you’ve completed your to-do list feels much better than when you do it to avoid your responsibilities (and then get buried in work later).

I’d suggest trying the Pomodoro technique to help with productivity and checking out these tips on how to boost your GPA to help.


5. How to deal with failure

I’ve had many wins in college but I also had some losses too. Despite the fact that I always push myself, I had to accept that things won’t always go my way.

You’re going to fail at something in college. Whether it be getting a bad grade in an important class, not getting an opportunity, or failing to perform a task as expected. But it’s okay.

The most important thing to focus on is what that failure has taught you.

If you learn nothing from your failures you’re doing yourself a disservice.

“We do not learn from experience, we learn from reflecting on experience”

– John Dewey

Related: 13 Essential Items Every College Student Needs to Get Through the Semester


6. Do what makes you happy

It’s easy to lose yourself trying to please others.

Your friends and family may have certain expectations for you that you may feel pressured to live up to.

Maybe your dreams aren’t very traditional or it’s not something that people think will make you a lot of money after you graduate. Maybe you have a special interest in something that people try to discourage you about. Or maybe you have to make a life-altering decision, but you’re scared of what other people will think.

It doesn’t matter what the situation is, what matters is that you put your happiness first.

Nobody else is going to live your life for you. The people pressuring you to make certain decisions aren’t the ones who have to live with the consequences – you do.

Make sure you can live with whatever decisions you make.

Related: Everything You Ever Wanted to know about being a Successful in College


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7. Don’t be afraid to walk alone

During my freshman and sophomore years, I was the only business major amongst my friends. As a result, I didn’t always have someone to tag along with me when I wanted to attend networking events or things of that nature.

So I went alone.

And you know what? I met a lot of great people with similar interests!

If you’re dealing with the same thing, or something similar to that nature, don’t be afraid to do it alone.

If you’re an introvert like me, you know it’s hard to go to different events alone because that means you have to socialize a lot and engage in a lot of small talk (yuck!) But if that’s what you want to do – do it anyway!

Force yourself to step outside of your comfort zone; because that’s where you grow.



I burned out during my sophomore year in college. I was trying to take on too many things at once; including a heavy course load, 2 jobs, multiple student organizations, and other campus events.

It was a crippling feeling that I couldn’t seem to shake. I couldn’t even get out of bed at one point and I was completely unmotivated to do anything.

Don’t be like me. And if you already are, stop and take a break.

Read this post to find out the biggest mistake you’re making (that you’re mistaking for poor time management) that may lead to you burning out in your college life.

Write down your values and overall goals for the semester/academic year/entire college career. Then prioritize tasks that can get you closer to these goals and omit anything that doesn’t bring you closer to your goals.

Furthermore, be sure to take a well-needed break before/after exams and stressful weeks so you don’t feel overwhelmed. This will truly make a difference.


9. Time Flies

I feel like I started freshman year a few months ago, but in reality, I’m one month away from graduating.

Time always works like that. One minute you wake up and you don’t know where it all went.

My college years were really the best years of my life. It wasn’t perfect at all. But it was the point of the most growth I’ve experienced.

I made a lot of great friends, and I lost some friends I didn’t think I’d lose. I learned to let go of what wasn’t meant for me, and more importantly – how to be okay with that. I learned a thing or two about ~adulting~ the hard way because you aren’t always taught these valuable life skills in your classes.

I’ve learned a lot, and I’ve grown a lot.



I bet you’re making one of the biggest mistakes you could be making at this point in your college career – not living in the moment.

Despite what year you’re in, you’re probably stressing over finding a job or internship. Or maybe you can’t get that big assignment out of your head because a chunk of your grade depends on it. Or maybe you’re daydreaming about the future and what’s to come after you graduate. And so on..

The point is – you’re not living in the moment. You’re constantly waiting for the next thing to happen, or the next event to pass before you allow yourself to take a break.

The problem with that is that after that “one thing” passes, another comes into play.

Before you know it, time goes by faster than you thought because you’re always waiting for the next thing. You’re always waiting for your next accomplishment before you applaud your effort; you’re always thinking about what’s next.

Stop that. I did that for a long time and it took a toll on me.

Give yourself permission to take a break. 

After you’ve accomplished something major, or after that event passes, take some time off and celebrate that win. Give yourself a break before you move on to the next thing.

If you constantly wait to check things off your list the cycle will never end. You’ll be miserable.

So take a day off and go out with your friends, or binge watch your favorite TV show on Netflix. You deserve it!

Related: Dorm Room Ideas | 15 Insanely Cute Dorm Room Ideas to Copy this Year


11. It’s okay to not know.

I never knew what I wanted to do with my life in college – still not 100% sure, if I’m being honest. I just tried new things, stuck to what I like, and eliminated what I didn’t like.

In college, there’s pressure to figure out what you want to do with your life/plan your life out completely, but that’s just not realistic. Maybe it seems like others have their sh*t together. Maybe it seems like you’re behind. I can assure you-you’re not.

Use your time of uncertainty to explore new things. This is the (and I can’t stress this enough) best time to experiment!

Related: 30 Things that will Transform Your College Dorm



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11 Lessons You'll Learn the Hard Way in College


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Written by The Metamorphosis

The Metamorphosis is a lifestyle blog about the journey of college to adulting. Here you can find the tips for college, self-improvement, adulting, and more.

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