7 Things To Know Before Starting College


August 25, 2012. My first day of my freshman year at San Diego State University.

Here are 7 unconventional truths I wish I knew then (and what every 18-year-old should know before starting college)

1. You don’t need a degree to make money.

If you want to become a doctor, lawyer, management consultant or investment banker, then yeah, go to college.

But, if you want to do your own thing, focus on building skills—not on getting a piece of paper.

Consider an apprenticeship program that teaches you skills like software development or digital marketing.

If you can supply the knowledge and skills the market demands, a college degree is irrelevant.

2. Don’t buy textbooks.

Rather than blowing hundreds of dollars on textbooks you’ll open only during Finals Week, invest in self-education.

Buy books on personal development. Listen to your role model’s autobiographies on Audible. Spend your hard-earned cash learning something cool through an online course.

Again, invest in building skills—don’t invest in textbooks you can find online for free.

3. Cardio won’t help you lose weight.

Listen, the “Freshman 15” is real.

And of all the victims it claims every year, few ever shed the extra pounds they gained from one-too-many late night burritos.

The reason for this is because they spend hours doing low intensity, steady state cardio.

This is a waste of time.

If you want to stay fit and sexy, do these things:

  • Strength training
  • Use Stand-up desks
  • Eat fats, veggies and meats

And just because it’s whole grain doesn’t mean it’s “healthy.”

It doesn’t need to be more complicated than this.

4. You don’t have to be friends with everyone.

David and I were neighbors in the freshman dorms.

Because we lived so close to one another, we’d hang out all the time. David partied way harder than me, and I started bending my own rules just to keep up with him.

Smoking weed, bumming cigarettes and drinking gross beer on Mondays were all against my values, but I did them anyways.

Look, proximity doesn’t equal friendship.

Instead, find those who have the same values as you and befriend them—and yes, even if they live in a different dorm.

5. Being nice won’t get you the girl.

But, being a jerk won’t, either.

I bought into the idea that my dream girl will fall for me if I’m nice to her. That didn’t work.

So, I became bitter, rude and passive-aggressive towards girls because of this insecurity:

If she doesn’t like me when I’m nice, is there something wrong with me?!

As you can guess, this was a lonely time in my life.

When I started studying attraction, I realized why I wasn’t winning over the girl. It was because I was faking my confidence, which made me seem needy.

To win the girl, you need to be okay with losing her.

6. No, you don’t need to go to Coachella to have fun.

And you don’t need to go to Taco Tuesday every week.

And you don’t need to watch Game of Thrones.

And you don’t need to play Fantasy Football.

And you’re not a failure if you don’t hook up with a new girl every weekend.

The point is this: you don’t have to play by other people’s rules to have fun.

If having fun to you is staying in on a Saturday to read about physics, then fuck it. Read away, Einstein!

Don’t subscribe to society’s definition of fun. Define what fun means to you, and then do those things.

7. You might die tomorrow.

During my 4.5 years at San Diego State, there were about 5 student deaths.

At least, there were 5 deaths I heard about (I’m sure there were more).

This was sobering for me.

It’s easy to fall for the trap of thinking you’re guaranteed 75 long years of life.

And with this false sense of security, it’s easy to waste time on social media…

Or to let your fears hold you back from approaching her…

Or to study what your parents want (instead of what you want)…

Or to justify your unhappiness because someday things will be different…

But when a healthy girl—no older or younger than yourself—catches Meningitis and dies within five days, it’s unsettling. You realize you may not have as much time as you think.




Yeah, you’re 18. But you’re not going to live forever. And neither am I.

Do the stuff that scares you because these are the things that will make you feel alive.

And don’t wait until you’re 25—do them now.

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Austin Dean

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