Dear Leah…hindsight 20/20

Dear Leah

Q: What are some things you wished you would have known before coming to college?

A: The first thing that came to mind when I heard that question, was- “CHEMISTRY!” Let me explain- at freshman orientation, I was still undecided on what undergrad major I wanted to pursue. While scheduling for fall classes, an advisor told me that most majors require chemistry, so most likely I would end up needing it, and that it was best to take it early and get it over with. So although I was already enrolled in a calculus course, I signed up for chemistry as well. I took them both in high school so how bad could it be, right? Wrong. After about the first week of chemistry, everything I thought I knew about the subject flew out the window. The same went for calculus. My days and nights consisted of flip flopping between calculus and chemistry homework, going to office hours to try and make sense of whatever I was supposed to be doing, and trying to convince myself that I wasn’t a failure and was not going to drop out of college. Three years later as I look back at my first semester course load, I’m thankful. Having college thrown at me with two very difficult classes, and an 18-hour credit load, I learned from the get-go that it’s a personal decision whether you are going to sink or swim in college. It all depends on how much work you are willing to put it. As it turns out, my major doesn’t require me taking chemistry. However that class taught me early on in college how to study correctly, how to take college tests, and how to efficiently time manage. Those lessons I learned while stressing out my first semester have been crucial to my success in every semester since then.

My second thought after reading your question was: CABS buses. CABS is the transportation system for students on campus. There are 6 different bus routes that wind their way through campus, and to me, the system seemed very intimidating as I arrived to Columbus as a freshman. The bus names-CLN, CLS, NE, ER, BV, and MC- meant nothing to me as I tried to figure out which one to take to get to my final destination across campus. I just kept thinking how much easier and simpler life would be if I would have already known how the bus system worked before moving in to college. As it turns out however, not knowing was a blessing in disguise. One of my roommates and I decided one night at the beginning of the semester that we were going to just hop on the buses and see where they took us so then we would know for future reference. That night of sitting in the back of six different buses as we just rode around campus was filled with laughter and bonding that resulted in her being one of the best friends I’ve made at college. We still look back on that night and laugh-yet had we already known the bus system, that night would have never happened.

Although, while going through college I have come across many things I “wish I would have known,” the truth is that most of those things have turned into better stories and learning experiences because I hadn’t known them.

Long story short, there’s a lot of advice out there on how best to be prepared for college. Everyone can tell you their best tips and tricks for navigating the crazy and hectic world of college, but the truth is that the best way to survive and thrive in college is by just jumping in and tackling everything college throws at you head-on. I guess what I’m saying is that sometimes the best way you can prepare for something is to not be prepared. (Now don’t tell your professor I told you this after you get a failing grade on an exam that you “prepared for” by not preparing.) However, I believe that personal experience is the best way to learn anything, so take a deep breath, put a smile on your face, and don’t freak out. Know that thousands of other incoming freshmen are feeling the exact same way as you, so there is no need to worry. Best of luck-now go enjoy college!


The “Dear Leah” column is written by agricultural communication senior Leah Schwinn. You can submit a student life related question at

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