8 Ways College Changes You

8 Ways College Changes You/Ways You Change When You Go To College

College changes you…really. I know that sounds like some b.s. quote your parents tell you or that the parents on Boy Meets World or Full House would say. It sounds dramatic and college is by no means some magical transformative experience, but I find that I’m not the same person I was four years ago. I can firmly say I am a different person than I was when I first started college. In fact, through every section of schooling from middle school to high school to college, I’ve found myself becoming closer to the person I want to be or maybe the person I’ve always been. Deep.

Overall, I can say that there are a lot of ways college changes you. These will not apply to everyone and they’ll often apply at different levels. I can only really take from my experience. Anyway, here are some ways you change when you go to college…based on some ways I did.

1. You Take Charge

To be fair, I don’t always take charge in every situation. If I’m at a restaurant and I need extra napkins, I’ll probably try to get someone else to get them. But, if I’m at a meeting or in a group project, I am usually the first one to step up and take charge. Being in college has definitely made me more inclined to take charge, especially because I often have the mindset of If I don’t, no one else will.

2. You Embrace Independence

While I still prefer being with friends and others over being alone, I enjoy being independent. It’s nice to be able to walk around, schedule meetings and even cook dinner on my own. College allows you to have so much independence, especially because no one’s monitoring your curfew or constantly asking where you are.

3. You Get Better at Sorting out People Who are Important to You

The busier you get, the less time you have and the more you have to really work to make time for others. When doing this, I find it’s easier to figure out who’s most important to you. When you have that one hour break between classes, who do you try to see? When you’ve finally got a night off and want to hang out with friends, who’s invited? The busier you are, the easier it is to be picky about the people you spend your time with.

4. You Realize Most People Don’t Actually Know What They’re Doing

Being an adult is an illusion! It’s comforting and terrifying all at once. As I’ve gotten older, I realize more and more that people who I often thought were very professional and knowledgeable might not be as much of either of those things as I thought. Everyone’s just figuring things out regardless of age. There won’t ever be a time when life is totally figured out and you totally know what you’re doing.

I used to think, “Ah yes, when I’m in college I’ll be such an adult! And then, when I’m twenty, I’ll have my whole life sorted out.” Not at all. There won’t ever be a time when life is totally figured out and you totally know what you’re doing.

5. You Become More Aware of Money…

….although you don’t necessarily get better with managing it. I feel like I never realized how expensive life was until college. Groceries, clothes, restaurants…everything adds up. Although I’ve been working on saving money, I’m still really disorganized and not great with tracking my spending. I am, however, aware of how expensive everything is and I do make efforts to spend less when possible.

{Related: The Guide to Saving Money in College}

6. You Come out of Your Shell

In middle school, I was so quiet and shy, but by the time I got to high school I got a little bit less quiet. By the time I got to college, I was so outspoken. If I told anyone who knows me in college that I used to be quiet, they’d never believe it. Attending and hosting club meetings, making friends and even communicating with professors really pushed me entirely out my shell. I love meeting new people and chatting with them, and it definitely is a way I’ve changed in college.

7. You Get Better at Small Talk

This isn’t always a given, but it’s often a happy side effect to being surrounded by so many people all of the time. You sort of learn to chat with people and make small talk. You’re sort of forced into in on so many occasions that you learn to hold your own.

Pssst….if you’re still a bit rough, check out my Guide to Mastering Small Talk.

8. You Give Less of a Shit

By the end of college, you can probably cry on the floor of the library and eat a Hot Pocket without even caring if anyone is watching or paying attention. Seriously, your threshold for embarrassment might not shift, but your threshold for caring about what other people think about you gets a lot higher. One of my most commonly used phrases in college might just be “I don’t care anymore!” and it’s not necessarily a bad thing.

How has college changed you?

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  • Jessica Ackley

    This is great! College has definitely changed me. When I was in high school, I decided I wanted to be an actuary because I liked math, and they make a lot of money. Now, as I get ready to end my college career 3 and a half years later, I realize there were way more important things that I should have been worried about, like I what I actually wanted to do on a daily basis.


    • Thanks, Jessica. That’s a really good point, I feel like it’s hard to focus on the day-to-day when college is oftentimes all about the post-grad picture!

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