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Things I wish I'd known when I started my college journey

Now that I am finishing up my second year of college, I can look back on the last two years and reflect on the first half of my college experience.

I don't think I would necessarily change anything, but there are some things I definitely wish I had known back when I first started.

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I absolutely love college — especially Stevenson University — but I could have potentially enjoyed my first two years a lot more if I had known then what I know now.

• Appreciate the good professors and don't let the not-so-good ones discourage you. Over the last four semesters, I have had my fair share of good professors and not-so-good professors. I have learned to appreciate the good professors, as they really are great mentors and connections. As for the not-so-good ones, everyone is going to have one, at least, at some point. You just have to work with what you have and make the best of it.

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• Talk to people. You never know who you may meet. I'm not the most outgoing person in the world, but I have met some great people just by striking up a conversation. If I would have done this when I first started college, especially as a commuter, my first-year experience probably would have been a lot more enjoyable. Making friends as a commuter is pretty difficult, because commuters don't see people back at the dorms or around campus nearly as often as residents. Talk to the person next to you in line at the dining hall or the one sitting beside you in class. Who knows? He or she could become your college best friend.

• Get involved. I know most colleges practically shove involvement in their students' faces, but it is definitely worth it. I got involved in a couple of things my first year, but I still felt a bit disconnected from my own school. Being a commuter is tough. Joining clubs and student organizations definitely makes the college experience much more worthwhile for both commuters and residents. I love feeling involved and connected with my school. Plus, involvement in student organizations and clubs looks great on a resume.

• Try new things. It's college! I had the opportunity to try out for a sport at the collegiate level, but I chose not to give it a chance. Not a day goes by that I don't wonder where I would be today if I hadn't changed my mind. College provides an array of new opportunities and experiences all the time, from trying new foods in the cafeteria to playing a collegiate-level sport. Students have all of these chances to try new things and decide whether they enjoy it or not. Take advantage of it.

• Time management is important. I, like many college students, put the "pro" in procrastination. I will also be the first to tell anyone that college is a lot less stressful if homework and studying is not put off until the last possible minute. If I would've known this earlier, my stress level probably would have been much lower. Finishing homework and studying ahead of time allows room for other things, such as more homework/studying, a coffee break or a trip to the gym. It's worth it in the end.

• Enjoy yourself. While we go to college to work hard, learn and receive a degree, we need to remember that we're still young. There's a whole world out there to explore. Study abroad; volunteer in the community; hang out with friends. Yes, ensure that there is enough time to study and do homework, but also remember that we're all human and we need to have fun sometimes.

While I can't wait until I can go out into the real world and start my career, I want to enjoy college while I still can. I love learning, participating in clubs, playing sports, hanging out with friends and meeting new people each and every day. College is unique in that way — there is something out there for everyone.

I have had so many wonderful opportunities and experiences over the past two years thanks to Stevenson, so I can only imagine how great the next two years will be. A word of advise for my classmates and future college students:

Don't forget to love college and just enjoy life.

Amanda Oppenheim is a sophomore at Stevenson University and can be reached at amandaoppenheim15@gmail.com.

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