Things I Wish I Knew Before College

by Meadows Credit Union | Aug 09, 2017

Read our interview with 2017 UIC graduate, Mary, and learn what she wish she knew before college to tell current and upcoming students what to expect.

There are things we wish we knew before we experience them.  College is one of those things.

So if you’re heading to campus this fall, here is some advice from Mary, an MCU staff member who recently graduated from the University of Illinois at Chicago, that can help you prepare for the best four years of your life:   

Key Advice:

Here are key advice we found with our interview with Mary:

  • Use ratemyprofessors.com. Some professors are difficult, and it may affect your other classes negatively. Use ratemyprofessors.com to avoid teachers that may be too challenging.
  • Don't study by yourself. It helps to have friends who better understand concepts and explain it better than the professor. It also reduces stress for any big exams coming up.
  • Don’t be afraid to apply for internships. Some internships sound like you’re not qualified, but it doesn’t hurt to apply so apply anyway.
  • Get knowledgeable about student finances. Talk with a financial adviser or professional for help and information. The more you know, the better you'll manage college finances.
  • Plan your class schedule. Schedule your work around class and try to give yourself a day without a class or work scheduled. This break will give you some free time to relax or catch up with projects. 
  • Join a student organization to make new friends. Join an organization that aligns with your interests. If other students are interested in it too, making a new friend will be a little easier.
  • Talk with the Executive Board. In a student organization, talk to the e-board to learn ways to get involved. The more you are involved, the more you'll find opportunities to improve your skills and get the experience you need.
To learn more from Mary's interview, read more below. 


Get the financial advice you need:

MCU hopes to encourage all students to achieve their dreams of higher education. If you or your child need any help with financing or planning for college, talk with a MCU Financial Service Associate at 800-662-2772 or visit us at Meadows Credit Union

We also have Student's Choice iGrad resources that educates students about financing and student loans. Visit our Student Choice iGrad resource for more information.

Learn More


Mary’s Interview

What is the first thing that comes to mind about your college experience?

“Get smart with scheduling. It will affect you if you're a commuter. One semester, I had one class on Tuesdays and Thursdays. I could have done school work at home or gone to work instead of traveling from and to school. I recommend you take out an excel sheet and type down the class, class number, day of the week the class is held and the time it is taken.”

What’s something you wish you knew when you were scheduling your classes?

“Use ratemyprofessor.com! Everyone uses it. I hate that I didn’t know about it until sophomore year. This website will help you avoid any difficult professors. And if you can’t avoid hard professors, look at the comments students left. They give you tips to survive the class.”

What are some studying tips?

“Make friends. You’re not going to survive without making friends in college. I was pretty shy my first two years so I had no friends in class. That was so dumb. I passed my most difficult class last semester with an A, and I started with a F. My friends and I stayed in the library helping one another out. It was actually really fun, and it helped ease the stress out. Plus, one person always knew how to get free food.”

You said you were shy your first two years. What helped you open up?
“Joining at least one or two student organizations and talking to the executive board. The first student organization I joined wasn’t engaging. I assumed all others were like that so I didn't try. At the end of my junior year, I went to a student organization meeting and talked to the President. She immediately told me how I can get involved. Within weeks, I was the Director of Programming, and I loved it.”  “So join at least one organization and ask “how can I help?” There is always something for you to do, and you'll make a lot of new friends.”
What’s something you wish you knew as a high school graduate that you know now as a college graduate?

“It’s okay to be aggressive when it comes to internships search. And what I meant by aggressive is apply and apply regardless if it looks like you’re not completely qualified for the internship. It never hurts to apply so apply anyway.

"And talk to a financial adviser or professional. I really recommend talking to a professional outside from the university. Either from a credit union or not-for-profit organizations like The College Board. Not so much banks since they are for-profit."

"I also wish I knew about Student’s Choice iGrad. There is so much information from iGrad that I wish I knew about. Definitely check out iGrad. It pretty interesting read."