Column: Things I wish I understood before coming to college

Lily Garner
Lily Garner

Lily Garner
Oxford Stories

It’s the summer before your freshman year, and everyone has some kind of advice to offer you. All you care about is getting away from your nagging parents and not having to follow their rules anymore.

Advice often comes with good intent, but I wish that I had a better understanding of what was behind that intent when I first came to college. Here are some things to consider.


This is at the top, because I know this is one you hear ALL THE TIME, but I promise you, it is one of the most important.

When I first came to Ole Miss and heard this, I sometimes decided my bed was more important than going and listening to a lecture about osmosis. Yes, the notes are on Blackboard. Yes, you get three skips. But, what are you really missing out on?

For one thing, the notes put on Blackboard aren’t a reliable source. If all professors did was just read from the board then, yeah, what’s the point of even coming to class?

Professors are sneaky, and to coerce you to come to class, they sneak important information into their lectures that “will be on the test.” If you still are not convinced that coming to class can be a life or death situation, let me give you an example from something one of my journalism professors did my freshman year.

At the beginning of the semester, my professor told us as long as you come to class, you will pass the class. I didn’t think anything of it, but continued coming to class.

One day, my professor said we no longer had to scan in when we entered the lecture hall.

The seats got emptier and emptier every day.

Fed up with this result, my professor assigned seats to take attendance for extra credit on Tuesdays and told us to not tell anyone. It was really funny to watch what students did when they came in for our tests on Thursdays.

I ended up getting an A in the class even though I was doing poorly on the tests. Even if you are an amazing test-taker, this does not ensure that you will pass the class, so GO TO CLASS.


This one is personal, but I think some students may relate and need to hear it. My first semester was really hard. I went through a huge transition from Dayton, Ohio to Oxford, Mississippi. Talk about a culture shock. I also went from a small town where I knew everyone to a small town where I knew no one.

A lot of times, I felt very alone and out of place because so many people who grew up in Mississippi and in Oxford knew each other. I befriended girls on my floor who were also from out of state and became very close with them. Yet, at times, I still felt alone.

My brother, who is three years apart from me, also went to Ole Miss at the time, and I would occasionally reach out to him, but I felt like I was just being a bother. I did not want to call my parents because I felt like I should try to no longer rely on them. This was not true.

When I went home at Thanksgiving, my mom knew something was up and asked me what was going on. I could not help but burst into tears telling her how I felt.

She was very sympathetic, but was confused because when I occasionally called her during the week, I did not say anything. I didn’t fully understand myself.

My mom told me she and my dad were always there for me and made me understand that even though I’m away doing my own thing, they will still do what they can to help me.

I wish that I could’ve understood this during my first semester, because the days when I was feeling sad and lonely, all I wanted to do was call my mom and rant to her.

A post my mom sent me the other day on Facebook led me to roll my eyes at first, but it actually said something that really made me think. It was about the things a mother missed the most now that her daughter was away.

It talked about how she missed seeing what she wore to school every day and knowing how she felt that day. It really made me think about how even though I was away from my mom, she still wants to hear how my week is going and what I’ve been up to.

So, don’t forget, your parents care about you and want to hear from you. Even though you’re 18 and out of the house does not mean you have to totally cut your parents from your life. They are still your parents and they love you.

Lily, right, and her family.
Lily, right, and her family.


When I was going through a hard time my first semester, I often wondered if I had made the right choice about where I went to school. It seemed that all my classmates who decided to stay in state where everyone in my high school decided to go were much happier than I was. They were going out every night and seeing each other, and I was almost getting FOMO (fear of missing out) from not being there.

The reality was “Thank God I got a way.” Because why should I stay with the same people I knew all the way from kindergarten to senior year. The ones who go to college are not getting the opportunities you are getting to network and meet other people or see another side of the country.

The other thing that I wish I knew and understood is that what people post on their Snapchat stories is not the full story. It does not show the part where, later that night, Sally’s best friend stole Sammy, her date for the date party. Or that Sally’s date, Sammy, got too drunk and threw up all over Sally’s pretty dress. People may be having a worse time than you are actually. Comparing yourself to others never does anything but hurt you.

You also hear about people transferring to other schools their first semester of college instead of sticking it out. When you transfer, you are giving up everything the school has to offer you after a few measly months. Have you really done and experienced everything your school offers you in that period of time?

Think about the reasons why you went to school in the first place. The first semester is never, ever good for anyone, and people’s college experiences are all different.

My parents told me I had to give Ole Miss one more chance, one more semester, and after that, if I still was unhappy and wanted to transfer, they would let me.

I promise that was the best thing they could’ve said to me. So give it one more chance, and if you are truly unhappy, then I understand. But don’t be a quitter after one semester, and don’t miss out on the opportunities your school has to offer.

I hope that some of this advice has helped you the reader, and I hope it has taught you something that will stay with you through your years away from home.

Lily Garner
Lily Garner

Lily Garner, 19, is a second year student studying broadcast journalism. She is a compassionate person who looks for the good in others and tries to make them smile. She loves to make other people laugh with her bubbly, silly personality.

Garner grew up in Dayton, Ohio, where she first realized her passion for journalism at Oakwood High School while working on her small class Morning Announcements show, AXTV. When she decided to join the class her sophomore year, she had no idea the impact it would have, leading her where she is today. Through the many videos she made for the class, she discovered a passion for making news pieces her community enjoyed.

Garner learned many important life skills and responsibilities from her work at a local pizza restaurant where she was a charter staff member. Old Scratch Pizza opened in the fall of 2016, and she has been working there since her junior year of high school.

She said she really enjoys the atmosphere, people, and experience that comes from working at Old Scratch – and the delicious pizza is just the icing on the cake. Working at Old Scratch has turned Lily into a real pizza connoisseur, and she loves trying different styles of pizzas everywhere she travels. She is still searching for a pizza restaurant that lives up to her “pizza-pectations” in Oxford.

Garner has gotten just a taste of what the world of journalism really is like with her second year on the SEC broadcast team at Ole Miss. She interns with the SEC network to help broadcast all Ole Miss sporting events. She has worked many jobs from camera utilities, to camera woman, to technical director training. She enjoys having this experience under her belt while she continues her studies at Ole Miss.

With a minor in political science, Garner dreams of one day working for a news network, such as Fox News. She grew up watching Fox News with her family and has always dreamed of being on “Fox and Friends” morning show. Her family shares this dream with her. 

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