“Now don’t it always seem to go that you don’t know what you’ve got ‘til it’s gone…”
Joni Mitchell knew what she was talking about—at least if her 1970 hit “Big Yellow Taxi” is any indicator. Most college students know how to have a good time, but far too many fail to appreciate the fringe benefits of simply being young and in college until they’re out in the real world.
Here are 12 of the biggest things you’ll miss (or miss out on) when you’re no longer in college:
1. Going out five nights per week is perfectly acceptable. Many professionals enjoy the occasional networking happy hour after work, but due to things like families and waking up at the ungodly hour of six AM the next morning, it’s not a nightly ritual. And if it were, you’d probably secretly be considered an alcoholic by your snickering coworkers. During college, though, you’ll just be warned about the evils of partying too much and still do it anyway.
2. College nights. Not only are you almost expected to go out all the time just for the sheer fact that you’re in college, you’ll be able to visit bars and clubs that offer cheap or free drinks to lure you in. It might not be well liquor, but it’s easy on the wallet!
3. Free swag on campus. There’s little or no need to purchase T-shirts, reusable coffee mugs, water bottles, or tote bags emblazoned with your school logo and/or mascot during your four (or six) years as a student thanks to the free ones that are handed out at nearly every organized event on campus. You’re probably paying for it all in the form of some generic student services fee tacked on to your invoice every semester, but that’s beside the point. It seems free because you don’t have to hand over any cash right then and there.
4. College football games. If you attend a university with a popular sports program, don’t forget that students get dibs on discounted or free tickets to the home football games. What are you waiting for? Slip on one of those free T-shirts and get ready to tailgate.
5. Discounts for simply having a student ID. Some students have no idea that they’re eligible for student discounts at a variety of stores, restaurants, and websites. Not sure which places offer deals for flashing your student ID? Take a cue from all the senior citizens out there who are proud to have AARP cards and ask!
6. Crazy jobs won’t get you crazy looks. We’ve all heard about the recent college graduates who are being forced to work as baristas and waiters because they couldn’t land any other jobs after college, tsk, tsk. During college, though, pouring coffee to earn your spending money is perfectly acceptable. So are a lot of other jobs that you probably wouldn’t want to admit to after graduation.
7. Nothing to do on Fridays. If you’re like most ingenious college students, you’re able to finagle your class schedule to have a three- or even four-day weekend—which are rare in the real world—every single week. You’ll definitely miss having nothing important to do on Fridays (and possibly Mondays, too) once you’re out of the dorms for good.
8. You’re encouraged to travel. Spring break, road trips, semesters abroad, semesters at sea … college students are actually encouraged to travel and see the world! Once you’re a “real” adult, backpacking through Europe or spending a drunken week in Cabo won’t be as easy to fit into your schedule.
9. Famous guest speakers on campus. It’s common for presidents and former presidents, best-selling authors, celebrities, and other guest speakers to make appearances on college campuses. If a bigwig is scheduled to speak at your school, be sure to go hear what they have to say! You might even get an autograph or photo together. (And wouldn’t that make a good anecdote during job interviews and networking events?)
10. It’s okay to be selfish. You shouldn’t be unnecessarily rude to others, but it’s okay to be kinda selfish during college. If you don’t want to go out with a group of friends or you aren’t hitting it off with someone that you’ve been casually dating, put your best interests at heart and just say, “No thanks!” During college, you shouldn’t have to compromise yourself or your beliefs. That should be true for everyone, but there’s a chance you won’t have the ability to put yourself first as often after graduation.
11. You live with your friends. Incoming freshmen often fret over the thought of getting stuck with a horrific roommate, but for the most part, you live with your friends during college—which is a lot more fun than living with your parents and your little brother. One day, you’ll even look back and laugh over the dumpy apartment you all thought was so spectacular.
12. Making those friends, AKA future networking connections, is pretty easy. College is a great time to meet people because you’re in the same place at the same time and have common interests and goals. Some college towns are home to thousands of people your own age. Not only does that make it easy to find buddies to hang out with, you could technically be interacting with your future colleagues or even employers.
Melissa Rhone earned her Bachelor of Music in Education from the University of Tampa. She resides in the Tampa Bay area and enjoys writing about college, pop culture, and epilepsy awareness.
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