Lessons to Learn Before College: 5 Things to Know

I’m doing a bit of a blast from the past today with this guest post about the 5 lessons to learn before college. Kennie is a recent grad from Canada, and she’s sharing everything you need to know before you start at college. Heck, even current students could learn a few of these things!

Your life is about to change.

You’re either super excited or extremely terrified about it.

It’s normal, everyone feels that way at first. But, what really doesn’t seem normal to you is how much adapting and compromising you are about to be faced with.

As a college student, you might not have to deal with constant intrusions from your parents, but now you’ll have to deal with these distractions from a total stranger who happens to be your roommate.

You don’t need to worry about what’s for lunch at high school, but now you have to learn how to make quick meals and meal prep on your own.

No one is there to force you to stop watching movies and do your assignment, but you might feel like your life is drowning in so much work to do.

I have been there, and almost every college student will say the same. If I was to rate my freshman year on a scale of 1 to 10, I would give it a 7. It could be lower, but it was a 7 because I did take some useful advice that helped me develop some important skills in my first year. If you want yours to be higher up on the scale, read through these must-knows to make sure you have the best freshman year ever.

1. Learn to Deal with People

This is most likely the first lesson you will experience once you walk into your dorm room. You may or may not have a roommate (or several), but if you do, it’s likely someone you’ve never met. As absurd as that may seem, everyone goes through some discomfort with this. Quite frankly, that person could turn out to be a lifelong friend. There is also a chance that person could be a complete nightmare.

Regardless of how the relationship with your roommate goes, you need to learn how to deal with people. This doesn’t mean you need to tolerate things you don’t like, but you need to learn how to deal with issues respectfully and with courtesy.

In college, everyone is on the same level. Everyone’s new to this whole thing. While you may get away with yelling at your sibling for not shutting your bedroom door or messing up the room, this won’t fly with your roommate.

It’s okay to be assertive about things the other person is doing that you don’t like, but also remember it’s not always what you say, it’s how you say it. Express yourself but be respectful of the other person. Needless to say, some things can be overlooked. Not every little thing has to be an issue, there are things you should learn to persevere through.

If you want to stay out of the drama and live a peaceful freshman year, this is something you will need to learn even in your everyday communication with new people.

2. Prepare for Diversity

With thousands of people admitted to colleges every year from different parts of the world, you will need to learn how to embrace diversity, which is such a beautiful thing.

It’s no longer your small high school pond, and you will have to grow into a much bigger lake. You will meet people from such diverse background and so many differences that may be new to you or maybe even odd to you. Once again, it comes back to respect.

I really shouldn’t be saying this. It should just be common sense, but I’ve realized common sense isn’t always common. So here it is:

You have to respect people’s culture, differences, and treat people with dignity whether you agree with them or not.

If you don’t agree with them, learning to agree to disagree is the most liberating thing ever.

3. Develop Your Resume

You barely even started college and you already need to start planning your resume? I hate to break it to you but yes!

The good thing is it’s not as stressful as it sounds. It can even be fun.

You already have enough of a workload and deadlines to meet, but you also need to de-stress. You can volunteer for activities that excite you. You can also participate in debates and contests organized by school programs and departments. These are all perfect for your resume!

Finally, it’s not as fun as the others, but another way to boost your resume is to enroll in work-study positions and Internships. The good thing about doing them is they give you an obvious advantage when it comes to grad school application and getting a job in the workforce.

If you still need help figuring out how you can develop your resume, check here.

You don’t have to fill your schedule with these activities. It doesn’t even have to be very often, however, keep your resume at the back of your mind. That way, when an opportunity you like comes along, you’re prepared for it.

4. Plan to Make Plans

College is a different level of overwhelming. If you think high school was difficult, wait till you start your freshman year of college. A stress-free semester is a product of proper planning. If you don’t plan, your freshman year might be the most stressful.

In hindsight, my first-year courses were most likely the easiest courses that I had to take. Yet, at the time it felt like I couldn’t cope. That’s all because I didn’t plan properly. Honestly, I didn’t even know how to start planning and that was the first problem. You will have assignments, projects, and tests all due in the same week, if not the same day, and you will go into panic mode if you don’t plan.

This is where school planners and calendars come in handy. Additionally, there are some great resources you can use to aid in your planning, from blog post to apps, it’s all there and free to help you. If you can get master the best study do’s and don’ts, you will are in for an easier, less stressful semester.

Remember, if you fail to plan, you plan to fail.

5. Master Your Fiances

The broke college student lifestyle is actually just a mentality. This reality doesn’t have to be yours. Obviously, no one is expecting you to have thousands of dollars in your account, but you don’t always have to be flat broke.

Side hustles are a fantastic way to make an extra source of income but, if you don’t have a hustle, you can easily live below your means. The truth is that everything is at your disposal in college. There’s nobody there to regulate your spending. Parties, bars, food, shopping, expensive dorm decor, fancy cars…I could keep naming extra expenses, but they might be a bit too tempting for new students! That’s the complete opposite point I’m trying to make.

Basically, you can have just as much fun and still do most of these things on a budget. New students find it hard when they get to college because they didn’t really get to hold money or make money as a teen. It was just given.

When you never had to learn how to budget, you might be prone to spending compulsively. If you can learn to take charge of your finances early, this will help even beyond college. You will save more, budget better, and pay off debt faster.

I know budgeting doesn’t sound fun, but neither does debt. You probably already have to deal with student loans, so why add unnecessary debt from multiple credit cards, a car loan, etc? The more you budgeting habits you can learn early in college, the more debt you’ll avoid later on. This is one of the most important lessons to learn before college.

Finally, while I’m so excited that you’re about to begin a new phase of your life, I wouldn’t be a good college blogger if I didn’t tell you how to prepare for the experience. College is fun, but don’t lose sight of why you are going in the first place. While doing the opposite of everything I explained above may appear cool, it’s only a short-lived feeling. I promise, there is lasting fulfillment in knowing you were the best you could be during your college years.

About Kennie

Hello! I’m Kennie from I am a recent college grad from York University in Toronto, Canada. I understand how challenging college can be, and I also know the struggles I faced in my undergrad days. That’s why I am passionate about sharing stories and tips in hopes of making other students’ experiences a lot easier and more fun. As I go through my phases of “adulting,” I aspire to share my growth and knowledge with fellow young adults. We are in this together!

Are you interested in contributing to Samanthability? You can learn more about contributing on my guideline page.

5 Lessons to Learn Before College


Hey, I'm Sam! I'm the blogger and full-time writer behind Samanthability. I blog about starting your own blog and rocking post-grad life. You can find me exploring Seattle, binge-drinking iced coffees, and reading spicy romance books. I'm glad you're here!