April 27, 2021

College students share lessons they wish they learned in high school

By Maddie Major, college senior and TSI intern

Here at The Social Institute, we’re committed to helping all students prepare for life’s many unexpected journeys. We also believe that students themselves often serve as invaluable resources for others who can learn from their experiences.

With high school graduation around the corner, millions of students are ready to forge ahead into the next phase of their lives. To help them out, we tasked our All-Star squad of TSI interns to reflect on lessons they wish they learned sooner and dish out advice for the next generation.

Don’t be afraid to ask for help

Learning how to self-advocate is crucial for taking advantage of the wealth of resources suddenly available. The key? Start early.

“I think I simply waited too long”, shares Marcus Higgens, a junior at North Carolina State University and TSI Data Analyst intern. “I wish I knew sooner how effective campus tutoring resources are and how to fully take advantage of the career center. I eventually figured it out, but it definitely would have been helpful to know about that before starting college.” 

Asking for help also goes beyond reading some brochures, visiting a career center, or raising a hand during a class or lecture. Developing relationships with professors and advisors often lead to opportunities and insight that otherwise may not have been so obvious. People are a resource!

Prioritize mental health 

Stress and anxiety were rising among new college students, and that was even before the pandemic. Becoming more aware of it, recognizing how common it is among students, and identifying helpful resources helps proactively address lingering issues before they take hold. Caroline Graham, a student at Elon University and a TSI Design intern, said, “I wish I knew it was okay to have ups and downs in college! It happens to everyone and is completely normal.” 

With college comes exposure to a whole host of new experiences, emotions, and opportunities. It’s easy to say “yes” to everything and, without even realizing it, becoming over-extended and bogged down with an unsustainable burden. The weight of both external and internal expectations amidst uncertainty and self-discovery can start to add up.

For Zoe Kate Kurtz, another Elon student and TSI Digital Content intern, managing mental health starts with self-care. 

“I wish I knew that I can’t be my best self for others unless I am the best version of myself for me. It is important to have balance and to ensure that you have self-care. I did not take enough time for myself in my first year of college because I felt like I always had to be busy. Making sure that I block out time to recharge my battery and take care of myself is the best way to help others in the long run.”
Zoe Kate Kurtz
TSI Digital Content intern
Elon University

Sharpen time management skills 

It’s never too early to hone time management skills and snuff out bad habits. For college students, procrastination is ubiquitous. In fact, between 80 and 95 percent of college students procrastinate

Less regimented class schedules, more extensive assignments, and expanding obligations make it easy to fall behind and increasingly difficult to catch up. Jaime Newman, a student at North Carolina State University and a TSI Business Operations intern, shares, “I wish I knew that it is even easier to procrastinate because things are due at different times, and there is a lot of responsibility for students to stay on top of it. Gone are the days of other people constantly reminding you to hit deadlines, study for exams, or hand in assignments. It’s all on you.”

Take advantage of flexible scheduling

TSI Marketing intern and fellow North Carolina State University student Savannah Shaw says, “I wish I knew earlier the different tricks for moving schedules around. It’s obviously different everywhere, and not every student will have the same opportunities, but getting creative with online classes or looking to see how course offerings change by semester definitely helped me to map out a schedule that works best for me.” 

This is one area where seeking out faculty advisors can really help. Even finding an informal advisor or mentor who works in a select department of interest might offer strategies that aren’t always obvious looking at a course list. Leaning on institutional knowledge helps to craft an experience that best suits academic and professional goals.

Embrace a growth mindset

No matter the journey, life after graduation represents one opportunity after another with near-endless possibilities to grow each day. Jiten Ruparelia, a student at North Carolina State University and TSI Sales and Research intern, sums up the totality of it all. “Simply put, I wish I knew more. I know that may be a vague statement, but I wanted to know more. I love seeking out ways to learn and being able to observe and absorb more information and knowing what I know now, I wish I had learned beforehand.” 

We’re always searching for inspirational student leaders who can help in our mission to empower students worldwide. For more information on how we lock arms with students, check out our Internship and Student Ambassador Programs.  


About The Social Institute

The Social Institute partners with schools nationwide to empower students, parents, and educators to navigate social-emotional health, social media, and technology positively through comprehensive, gamified lessons that meet students on their level as well. We have partnered with forward-thinking institutions across the nation, including Ravenscroft School, Gaston Day School, Bryn Mawr, Gilman School, Woodward Academy, U.S. Olympic athletes, Duke Men’s Basketball, ESPN, and others. For more information, contact us.