What I Wish I Would Have Done Differently in College

Looking back on my college days, I feel like I made some great academic and social decisions, but I also made some mistakes that I learned from as I went along. Here are some of the things I wish I would have done differently during my college career.

I wish I would have asked for more help. Whether that be from professors, from my roommates, or even from my parents. There were things I needed help with that I was never confident enough to ask someone typically because I felt like I had to be my own, independent person now that I was in college. That’s not true! Ask for help. 

I wish I would have built deeper relationships with my professors, especially the ones further on in my major. I often was one to walk into class, do the assignments, take the notes, and then walk out on my way to my next class. I never stayed after to chat or have deeper conversations about the subject matter. Professors are not only there to help you, but they can also be incredible resources for networking. 

I wish I would have asked a lot of questions. Again, I wasn’t one for being actively involved in my classes. But I wish I would have been. I wish I would have actually asked those deeper questions that I was wondering about but never relaying to my teachers. 

I wish I would have taken the readings more seriously. Assigned readings just felt like a chore, but later on, in my major-specific classes, I realized too late that the readings were actually there to help me learn, understand deeper, and have information to take me into my career someday. Better yet, I wish I would have saved some of these readings to use later on. 

I wish I would have had more fun. I spent a lot of time studying and doing homework, and yes! That’s a very good thing! But every once in a while, I wish I would have put off an assignment for a day so I could be social as well. Because college is more than just getting a degree! It’s about who you meet and the experiences you’ve had. 

What do you wish you would have done differently in college? 

A Guide To Buying College Textbooks

Textbooks in college- what’s the deal with them? You’ll find such differing opinions when it comes to textbooks in college. Some will say you absolutely need them, others will say don’t bother buying them. Here’s a quick rundown on college textbooks and the different options you have! 

My first piece of advice is to wait until the second or third week of school to buy textbooks, if possible. This way you’ll know for sure that you’ll not only stay in the class, but you can also get a feel for whether or not you need the textbook. Take a look through all of your syllabi and see which assignments you’ll need the book for. Once you’ve weeded out your classes to know which you’re staying in and which you’re dropping, and know if you need the textbooks or not, you’ll have a better idea of how to obtain them. 

There are different types of textbooks you can find at a school: 

Regular books that you can purchase anywhere.

Books specific to the school, but can be used for general classes, even if taught by different professors. Typically these are only found in the school’s bookstore. 

Textbooks written by the professor specifically for that class only. These typically are a more “workbook” or interactive textbook, and only found new in the bookstore. 

E-books for all of the above, if available.

Person Holding Stack of Books

The different ways to purchase them: 

New and from the bookstore (typically the most expensive way to buy books)

Used and from the bookstore (saves money, but there are also cheaper ways) 

Rented, either from the bookstore if they allow this option, or from a service such as Chegg, Thriftbooks, or Knetbooks. 

Purchase used from Amazon, other textbook online services, or on local classified pages. Many colleges will have a Facebook page to buy/sell textbooks, too. 

Using the school bookstore isn’t the end-all for buying college textbooks! Look online to find books where you can. There are so many companies out there that realize how expensive college is and want to cut you a deal where they can. Look into these companies! 

A few other tips:

Try to rent or buy used when you can. It saves money, and saves the environment! Win, win.

If it’s a class that is specific to your field of study and seems like one you may want to reference later in life, try to buy it used instead of renting so you don’t have to return it later. 

Another great way to save money is to split the cost of a textbook with a friend or roommate that is attending the same class as you,  as long as it can easily work out for both of you to use it for readings and assignments. 

There are specific scholarships out there too that will fund your textbook needs. Search for those and apply. Other scholarships can go towards any school expenses, also including textbooks. 

Textbooks don’t have to break you financially! There are ways to save money and be smart financially if you’re willing to put in a little time and research. 

What is your favorite way to find textbooks? 

A Quick Guide To Financial Aid

Financial aid. Do those two words give anyone else anxiety? When I was a senior in high school, they did for me! The thought of having financial aid is great! But the idea to put the work into getting financial aid can be daunting. Let me see if I can ease some of your fears! 

Let’s start with a definition. What is financial aid? Many will think it’s just grants or loans from the government, or FAFSA. But it can be more than that! It can also be grants and loans from private entities, as well as scholarships from your school or other organizations. Any additional money you receive to help pay for school is financial aid. 

So how can YOU obtain financial aid to help pay for your schooling? 

Search for and apply for scholarships

Apply for FAFSA. If you have questions or need help filling out their application, ask a parent, guidance counselor, teacher, or other trusted adult for help. FAFSA includes grants (money you don’t have to repay) and loans (money you have to repay). Even if you don’t plan on taking out loans, you should still at least apply to see if you can qualify for grants. Applying is free. 

If you are employed, talk to your HR to see if they have any programs that help pay for school while you work. 

Search for scholarships- again! 

Apply for our Design A Better Future scholarship. 

Look into your specific university, trade school, or community college to see if they have any grants or scholarships you can apply for. 

Applying and searching for financial aid can be a lot of time, work, and effort. However, if you are willing to put that time and effort into it, you may be surprised what reward you get out of it! 

What other questions do you have about financial aid that we can answer for you? 

Tips For Applying For Scholarships

What’s better than money? FREE money! There are different companies and people around the world that understand not just how expensive higher education can be, but also how important it is. To help this, they offer students scholarships to help offset these costs. (Hint, hint, we offer a really good scholarship too!) As far as applying for scholarships, here are our tips! 

  • Never assume you are too young or too old. You can find scholarships as young as 7th or 8th grade or even clear into your Ph.D. 
  • Write out a general essay that you can adapt to each scholarship you apply for. 
  • If you are employed, check into your company to see if they offer any scholarships or school reimbursement 
  • Get started early! If you procrastinate on deadlines, you may miss out on great opportunities. It also looks good to scholarship boards to see those that submitted early versus those that waited until the last minute. 
  • If you have specific questions about the scholarship, reach out to them and ask! More often than not, they are happy to answer your questions. 
  • Apply for as many as you can find. If all you have to put in is time to apply for scholarships, it’s worth the money you’ll receive. 
  • Make sure you read all of the requirements and qualifications for a scholarship and double-check that you’ve done everything before submitting. Many people are turned away from a scholarship because they do not have all of the materials needed when submitting. 

Check out this video!

Good luck applying! Be confident in yourself and your qualifications. What other tips would you add to this list? 

Have You Heard About Our Scholarship?

Hello! McKenzie here with some news! Not only can I say I am an educational blogger, but I am now a scholarship chairperson! Honors Graduation does a very generous scholarship every year, they hand out five $10,000 scholarships to high school seniors attending college the next school year. You can read more about the scholarship here. 

I’ve always wanted to be part of a scholarship organization in some way since college. I was fortunate to receive many scholarships, both large and small amounts, throughout my four years and have felt inclined in some way to provide this for other college students. I know first hand the excitement and relief that comes with the award of scholarship money. When presented with the opportunity to be on the scholarship board for Honors Graduation I was thrilled, to say the least! 

The scholarship outline is to design a better future. Students create a project in their community that better it in some way. This is the second reason I love being here for this! One of my strengths is to look around at a situation and think, “How can I improve this?” When I was in high school I worked in the Sears shoe department where I was constantly moving shelves, reorganizing, and making the process more efficient for all, my supervisor loved it! 

As I’ve been researching this scholarship and reading about every past winner, I had a light bulb moment that I am unknowingly conducting my own design a better future project that I am excited to share with you soon. Stay tuned! And until then, check out our scholarship and see how you, or a high school senior you know, can win $10,000! 

Cover photo by Lacey Ross Photography