A Few Things That You Can’t Pack For College, But Need To Take With You

Each year thousands of students head off to college. Some are headed there as freshman, bright eyed and bushy tailed with stars in their eyes. Other more seasoned students are just returning to what they may already know. As you prepare and start packing it is important to think about what you will need to take with you — I mean this in more than a practical ‘what outfits will i need’  or ‘how many pillows should I take’ way. You will need to begin to think of the mindset you plan to take to college with you. Here is my list of things you should pack in your mental suitcase as you head to college.

1) An Open Mind
Some of us go to college with the next 10 years of our lives planned out, while others are still trying to decide what they should eat for breakfast, but this doesn’t mean that one student will end up more successful than the other. It simply means we all find our time and place when it is right for us. Keep an open mind and know that at any time your interests, plans, and desires could change. Finding your correct path is more important than sticking to the one you think you have planned. You learn and grow a lot in college and if you’re anything like me, you may change your major 4+ times before finding the perfect one. (Don’t worry mom, I’m still graduating on time).

Today’s world favors an agile mind over a rigid one. Those who possess multiple skills, and can change and adapt to the world around them are more likely to succeed. Take advantage of multiple opportunities and soak in all you can. YOLO right?

2) A Healthy Level Of Fear
No matter how strong, levelheaded, or brave we are, sometimes we all get scared. While fear has the potential to hold us back, being scared can be one of the most rewarding emotions. Whether you are heading to college or have recently graduated and are headed into the big, bad world we call ‘real life’ the waters are uncharted and a sense of unease may settle in.

Do not be afraid of being afraid. Do not hold yourself back or avoid daunting challenges. The results come when you push yourself. Most of us have worked out at least once in our lives, if we put the bar down right as it got difficult, or quit running right as we were getting tired would we ever see results? Nope! Use your fear to challenge your imagination and build your confidence.

3) Confidence
Speaking of building your confidence… Some of the most successful people in life have faced major failure. Thomas Edison was told by his teachers that he was “too stupid to learn anything.” Walt Disney was fired by a newspaper editor because he was told he lacked imagination (Business Insider). The first three businesses launched by Henry Ford failed before he started the successful Ford Motor Company. Dr. Seuss had his first book rejected by 27 publishers. Louisa May Alcott was advised to “stick to teaching.” J.K. Rowling received 12 rejections for her first Harry Potter book, and The Diary of Anne Frank received 16 rejections (LiteraryRejections.com). The list goes on and on. The point behind this laundry list is that sometimes we fail, but no matter what we must go confidently in the direction of our dreams.

4) Independent Mindset
When I use the word independence, I am not referring to the kind that means you get to stay out late, or go places without telling your parents. That comes with the nature of college. I am talking about the kind of independence you gain by learning to think for yourself. An independent mindset allows you to see the world through a wider lens. You realize in college there is no ‘right’ way to think, or any ‘cool’ group to follow. Your independent mind will give you the chance to make your mark on the world and affect change. It’s your time; just do YOU!

5) Creativity
Creativity is about learning to integrate concepts and see things from a different perspective. With a creative mindset you will learn to view obstacles as opportunities and find new meanings and perspectives from what you encounter. Maybe you get creative with how to maximize the space in your tiny dorm, or how to get the most food out of your college budget. Whatever it is, taking a creative approach to things will only help you in life.

6) Healthy Level Of Competition
Like fear, competition has the opportunity to hinder you and to excel you. Finding a healthy balance with competition in your life is important. Learn to compete with yourself, always striving to do a little better on your next test, or run a little farther at the gym. Try writing down goals and keeping track as you work towards them, this way you can see when you do a little better than the last time!

7) Involvement Is Cool
It all depends on what your high school’s culture was like, so this may not apply to you, but in college it’s cool to be involved! Go to your schools involvement fair and don’t be scared to ask questions and get information! Find the club, or clubs, that sound interesting to you and stop by a meeting. There are tons of awesome opportunities in college and getting involved is great for your resume and your social life.

8) Desire To Find Out Who YOU Are
Everything around us shapes who we are and who we become. College is an interesting time in our lives because we have just left the nest and are exploring our new found freedom. We are independent, yet safely surrounded by people in our same age group. This is the last time in life you will be in an age restricted group. Our brains are close to being fully developed, yet not quite there. Spend your precious 4 years in college wisely. When you graduate you will join a competitive market and the words “you don’t have enough experience” will come often from potential employers. Without experience you only have one thing to fall back on, YOU. Use college to develop your brand. Figure out what your core values are, interests, passions, etc. Figure out what makes you unique and how to make yourself marketable.

College really is the best years of your life. Use your time wisely because it flies by. If you have any other things that you think should be included in the list let us know! There is no way I can cover them all.

Melanie Lovejoy
College Works Painting

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