Hi! I’m Heather and I blog over at Pretty Strong Medicine! After graduating from the greatest university in the world (Go Hoosiers), I decided to move back home and take a year off to work as a nurse assistant while I applied to medical school. Now I’m getting ready to start my first year in August!
I blog about training to become a physician while living the life of a twenty-something. I made it my goal to shed the weight I gained in college and get healthy and fit once and for all. I also just got engaged so soon I’ll be sharing my wedding planning bliss!
In the past year I’ve had some time to reflect on the “best years of my life.” College was a blur of ups and downs, studying, having fun with friends, and loving/hating life all at the same time. Before you know it, it’s all over! Here are a few lessons I learned from college!
1. Making friends through activites 2. Do something adventurous 3. Indiana Basketball 4. Indiana University Little 500 5. Out with friends (after lots of studying, of course).
Your Experience Is What You Make It
In order to have a positive experience in college, you have to be willing to put in the work. You have to push yourself out of your comfort zone and meet new people, try new things, and GET INVOLVED! I attended a large Big 10 University which was pretty intimidating at first. In order to make a huge university smaller, I joined a sorority and participated in clubs, volunteered, and had a work-study job. Not only did I meet amazing groups of people but I stayed busy and really got out of my “shy” shell.
College Girl Uniform
At my school, the college girl uniform (maybe I should amend this to the sorority girl uniform) became blatantly obvious as soon as I stepped foot on campus; “Norts”/ v-neck T/flip flops in the fall/spring and yoga pants or leggings/North Face jacket/Uggs in the winter. After about a month of being at college, I had all politely assimilated and embraced the uniform into my wardrobe - I’m pretty sure I didn’t wear jeans to class all junior & senior year. Whoops! There’s a time and place to look cute & put together but college taught me I was doing it wrong in high school - you might as well be comfy will sitting in class all day!
When you go off to college, you most likely aren’t entering a land of sophistication and grace. If you are used to four course meals and five star hotels, the dorm life and later sorority/apartment living will lower these standards. Suddenly cold pizza for breakfast and cold cereal for dinner will seem like a well-balanced diet. Dancing the night away in sticky fraternity basements and wading through wild tailgate fields will become your new entertainment.
Being Smart Is Cool
Unlike in high school, being intelligent and/or caring about school is generally celebrated in college. Doing well in your classes is a good thing and you shouldn’t hide the fact that you care about grades - after all, you’re paying thousands of dollars to attend! If you surround yourself with the right people, there is no reason why you can’t do well in school and maintain an active social life. Work smart, play hard.
The Freshman 15 Is Real
If only I had believed the rumors - gaining the Freshman 15 is a reality, friends. Unless you are very disciplined or active already, it is so easy to gain weight in college. You’re time gets filled up quickly with activities, classes, studying, social events, and more. Make working out a priority and try to avoid making poor food choices all the time. Have fun but remember pizza and chicken fingers are not a major food group! Even better, find ways to be social while getting a good workout - go to fitness classes with your dorm mates, join an intramural team, or find a running buddy!
You Will Never Have So Much Freedom
College is a very freeing time of your life. There are no parents and teachers to hold your hand through classes or to make you study. All your motivation to succeed must come from within you! College is a great time to figure out what makes you tick - participate in activities or take classes that help explore your interests. You will most likely never be able to take a class all about chocolate or birding (I took both of these!) again so do it now!
Succeeding in college is all about balance! You don’t have to sacrifice a social life in order to do well in school and you don’t need to be a huge party animal to make friends or be liked. There is a place for everyone but it requires effort. Looking back on my experiences, I wish I would’ve done MORE! I was already pretty busy but I wish I would’ve challenged myself to take on more leadership positions or started running sooner.
Enjoy yourself but remember that these four years are preparing you for “real life” - especially if you plan on pursuing higher education. Keep your future goals in mind and do your best! Four years goes by quick.
Isn't it sooo exciting that Heather is engaged now!? Read her story here!
Thank you so much, Heather, for still taking the time to still write this post!