A few posts ago I answered some questions regarding all things college. I thought it would be helpful for high schoolers or incoming college students or really anyone who just is curious about what college is like. I decided to extend the Q&A and ask my friend to give her advice and share her tips to survive college! It’s good to hear from different people because every one’s experience is going to be different based on the person, the major, and the college. Hope you enjoy and thanks Erin!
Name: Erin Goode
School: Cal Poly SLO
Major: Elementary Education
Q: Is it crucial to know what you’re studying when going into college?
A: Definitely not. Cal Poly requires you to declare a major when you apply (there is no such thing as ‘undeclared’ here), but when you’re 17 or 18 you don’t need to know what you want to do after college. I know many people who have switch majors because what they thought they wanted to do straight out of high school was not what they actually want to do. I have definitely gone through doubts myself as well, and honestly, just because you get a degree in a certain subject does not mean you have to find a job related to that subject.
Q: Thoughts on the hook up culture?
A: The best way for me to describe my opinions on this is: You do you, boo. If you want to ‘hook up’ (whatever that means to you), go for it! If you aren’t comfortable ‘hooking up’ and would rather be in a relationship, do that! No one should feel pressured to do anything they don’t want to be doing. To me, the concept of casual sex does seem to be prevalent in college, but if that doesn’t float your boat, you can just as easily find like-minded people.
Q: Does everyone party and is it looked down upon if you don’t party?
A: Not everyone parties and people should not feel ashamed if that is not what they choose to do. I think the key to finding party alternatives is to find some friends who also may not be interested in partying. In college, socializing is definitely important, and meeting many different people can help you get through the college years, but partying is not the only way to socialize. At Cal Poly, we are lucky to have many alternatives to partying since we are in such close proximity to places like the beach and mountains.
Q: Are classes significantly harder than high school?
A: In my opinion, no. This may be my major and this is definitely specific to each individual, but I do not think the classes in college are any more difficult than the classes in high school. You just have to put in a little more work outside of class than you did in high school in order to do well.
Q: What is the best way to meet people?
A: Clubs, intramural sports, or work. One of the best decisions I made my freshmen year was signing up for the free agent teams in intramural Basketball and Softball. I didn’t know anyone else, on either team, and I didn’t sign up with any friends either (so I didn’t have someone there to make me feel more comfortable). I ended up meeting one of my really good friends this way and making friends with people who had similar interests. I also recommend signing up for clubs, or if you have time, possibly getting a job. I signed up for Club Sailing (I don’t sail at all) and made a ton of friends. I also got a job at a local candy store and made some great friends while working there. A piece of advice for meeting friends: Try as much as you can, to try new clubs or sports on your own, before getting your ‘old’ friends involved. Because you are by yourself, you are more motivated to branch out and talk to people.
Q: How real is the freshmen 15?
A: The Freshman 15 is the most real thing about college. Holy s*!&. I’m pretty sure I bought like 6 new pairs of jeans my freshman year. I’m honestly not sure if I gained 15 pounds or 10 pounds or 20 pounds, but I definitely weighed more at the end of the year than when I started.
Q: What is there to do on the weekends besides studying?
A: At Cal Poly, we are lucky to be in very close proximity to both the beach and mountains, so lots of people will chill at the beach or go on hikes. Partying, especially in the spring, is more common on the weekends but also not the only thing to do. I like to eat, so trying new restaurants and food is always fun. In San Luis Obispo, there are lots of boutiques and shopping around.
Q: Is college just a bigger version of high school?
A: Not really. In high school, I felt like everything and everyone was in very close proximity. I went to a pretty large high school, but I still felt like I knew everyone I graduated with, if not, at least 75% of them. In college, I do not feel that is the case. In terms of the social life, I don’t think it feels much like high school either. Everyone seems to do whatever they want to do and there aren’t really queen bees like you see in the movies.
Q: Are grades really important?
A: Yes and no. Don’t fail your classes, but don’t feel the pressure to get straight A’s. In college, they can ‘kick you out’ if you’re GPA is under a certain minimum for a period of time, but that is for extreme cases. At Cal Poly the average GPA is a 2.7 (which is a B- on our grade scale). Your grades won’t matter very long after you leave college, so if you’re stressing about that B+/A- grade, just do your best and don’t stress too hard.
Q: Any random piece of advice to give for incoming freshmen?
A: Leave your door open. Talk to people in your classes. Save some money (make a budget)! Know your limits, and learn them (if you haven’t already) by taking it slow. Trust me, overdoing any alcohol or drugs really sucks.
Wow… I’d say this is some solid advice. I definitely agree with everything Erin mentioned, especially about getting involved to meet people and the freshmen 15. I will definitely be writing about how to avoid the freshmen 15 and staying healthy in college, so stay tuned! I hope you enjoyed this Q&A with Erin. More featured guests to come!