5 Things I Wish Someone Had Told Me Before College

This time of year, I can't help but get a little nostalgic, and slightly jealous, about all the incoming freshmen who will land on campus for the first time and embark on some of the best times of their lives. I'm sure you'll remember being inundated with a ton of information, thrown at you from left and right from family, friends, and practically any stranger who heard you're heading off to college. And it all culminates into the craziest combination of anxiety and excitement.

If you're on the cusp of college, be sure to take in all of it the best you can. You never know what piece of advice your crazy aunt will give you that will make the transition a little smoother. Or maybe you're the one dishing out the advice to your scholarly loved ones. Either way, here are five things we wish someone had told us — or rather, wish we had listened to — before we left for college.

1. Have an open mind

It seemed like everyone told us our whole lives what our university experience would be like. Maybe you had older siblings who couldn't stop filling your mind up with pictures of the next four years. Chances are you visited the campus and had some perspective of what the future had in store. Being excited is great, but not going in with specific expectations is even better. It's different for each individual. Maybe you transitioned super smoothly into dorm life or had to warm up a little to your new surroundings. Looking back, I realize that whatever the experience, it's all good. There's never a right or wrong way to get into the swing of things.

2. Doing things on your own is awesome

If you'd been wrapped up in a close-knit community of friends and peers, heading off to a large campus could have been overwhelming. Maybe you loved (or hooked up with) the people on your floor immediately, or maybe you didn't have the same interests. Whatever the case, getting out there and getting involved in organizations and activities that interest you is a key to college success. And the earlier you get involved, the better. Checking out an on-campus yoga class or listening to a guest speaker was always a great way to meet upperclassmen. Chances are they have the best insider tips and tricks to offer, specific to your college environment. Talk about helpful!

3. Figure out when to splurge and when to save

Whether your parents help you out or not, having a game plan before you leave makes the transition that much smoother. Now I see that getting comfortable with money and budgeting early is a skill that will last a lifetime. Take advantage of what's available on your campus. There are tons of resources that will help you out on this one. Also, finding a job on campus is a great way to gain some extra cash. I was always so jealous of the kids who managed to snag a gig working at the library help desk. They essentially were getting paid to study and look up every so often.

4. Plan ahead

The girls who managed to get this one down always amazed me. How could she have a paper due in the morning and be hanging at a frat party right now? She had it done three days early?! The earlier you plan ahead for your course load, the less stressed of a lady you will be. This is a phenomenal habit to get going as soon as possible. I don't begrudge anyone of those days when you have three papers and three tests due in a 72-hour block. Having planned ahead and giving your best effort to each assignment always pays off in the short and long run.

5. Work hard, play hard

Looking back, I see that college is about finding yourself through education and socialization. Finding a balance between partying for a week straight and cooping yourself up in the library scared of your own shadow was difficult, but a necessary lesson. While there are absolutely times that you need to study, study, study, and study again, it's also equally necessary to make time for fun when possible. Those four years will go by faster than you imagine. Take me back!

Any more tips to share or things you wish you had known before you left for college? Add them below!