College-isms: Things I wish I would have done in college that I'm scrambling to do now.
I feel kind of super ridiculous asking my professors for recommendation letters almost two years out of college. If you're SO done with your undergrad and think you have surpassed the phrase "the struggle is real" so much so that you would never even consider going to MORE school down the road, go ahead and do your "future Spock" a favor and ask one of your favorite/best professors for a letter of recommendation. You might (as in, you definitely WILL) need it for a future job or graduate degree. And it's best to get it when your professors have you fresh in their memory (because you did super awesome in their class, impressed them, participated in class dialogue, worked with them in an academic society, and went out to lunch with them a few times to glean their unequivocal wisdom, right?), instead of two years later hoping they haven't forgotten how much they liked you (Or how much you think they liked you :) ). Getting your letter pre-applying to jobs and grad-school also just makes you look super prepared. So, go. Do now.
2. Written thank you's to my professors.
This isn't because you're wanting to bribe them. Or maybe it is. It's because you really don't realize how necessary and great they were to you in college, and you wish you would have thanked them in the thick of it all. And sometimes, they could use a little love and encouragement in the thick of the chaos too.
3. Enjoyed FREE TIME like it was a box of peppermint Oreos.
Lately a lot of people in my life have had children. One of my "new mommy" co-workers was telling me last week that she has no recollection of what she did with her free time when she wasn't a mom... and it's only been a few months since her life got Fresh-Princed "switched turned upside down" with a baby. She's already forgotten what free-time looks like? I think back now and am amazed at how much wonderful free time I had in college. Free time to learn, to laugh, to go on adventures, to be carefree, to work, to not work, to grow, to reflect, to rest. Now I work a lot and am married and don't have as much of that. And I can't imagine if Einstein and I have kids what that will look like. But gosh I miss that college free time a lot sometimes. So enjoy it. And learn to use it well.
4. Gotten a scary internship(s).
My mom told me I needed to get an internship while I was in college, so in defiance, I tried my best not to get one. But what you should know, is that most colleges require internships. And if they don't, you really should pursue one anyway. IN college AND out. If you're like me, you tend to make life decisions that lead to easy escalator steps instead of rigorous climbs. I was SO afraid of what a real internship might require that I interned for the middle school youth ministry at the church I grew up at because it was easy to secure. And trust me, I probably learned more about myself that summer than any other summer. MIDDLE SCHOOLERS ARE ENERGY SUCKERS AND NOT FOR THE FAINT OF HEART. BEWARE. I wish I had thrown myself into corporate fire or taken the difficult steps toward intimidating businesses or organizations. Pursue internships that makes you feel uncomfortable. Step into your vocational fears instead of away from them. Pursue opportunities you don't think you're qualified for. Pursue internships you really would want. Pursue internships that have nothing to do with your major but you still find fascinating. Pursue more than one.
5. Studied Abroad.
Traveling changes lives. As do the Harry Potter books, the Olsen twins, and campfires. Traveling during college is a must. Even if it means not eating out three or four semesters before or after. It's worth every cent. If I tell my students to do anything while they're in college, I tell them to study abroad. And I'm the number one hypocrite preaching this stuff, because I never did. But I've traveled. And changed the most from immersing myself in other cultures. So go sign up or start planning a trip right now.
6. Communicated to my closest friends how much I'll suck at talking to them after college.
Really, I think this happens with a lot of people who move away from their college town. Their friendships get tested. And I mean the deep "I went to the beach with you illegally when it was closed at midnight and we bonded" kind of friendships. It's not that I don't care about them. I actually stalk their lives a lot and am cheering them on from a distance, even if that's just by liking their pictures on instagram (the obvious equivalent to saying "YAY you! I love what you're doing in life!). But if you are like a Stacie Stine in this area of your life, you might want to let your friends know ahead of time so they can prepare themselves or come up with ways to help keep you better accountable to calling them. My friends are sweet and keep bombarding me with reminders that we need to talk. And I love that. Need that. And will take grace in that area because I need grace in that area.
7. It would have been nice to take the GRE fresh out of that one college math class I had to take. Because studying for that ridiculous GRE (that usually has nothing to do with what you majored in) four years after that math class is like trying to lick peanut butter off your entire face in less than 30 seconds.... impossible and frrrrruuustrating.