College: If only I knew then what I know now …

As thousands of freshmen begin their college lives, we asked current seniors and recent grads to offer some advice on how to navigate the exciting, and sometimes challenging, world on campus.

Through email and in live interviews, they offered the following words of wisdom:

Learn to manage your time

“Try to find a balance between getting good grades, sleep and social life,” said Elisabeth Lyons, a 2013 graduate of Anderson University in the Upstate. “You won’t be able to find a balance permanently because things are always shifting, but that’s a good preparation for life as a working adult.”

Choose your friends wisely

“If you surround yourself with people who you admire and people who are taking college seriously, they’re going to encourage you to take it seriously,” said Kathryn Kranjc, a registered nurse and 2014 graduate of the University of South Carolina in Columbia. “Stay focused, pray and surround yourself with people who can lift you up.”

Stick to a budget

“Find out how much money you need each week, set money aside for expenses you have to pay like rent, groceries and gas,” is advice from College of Charleston senior Brandon Sykes. “Put some money in an account and don’t touch it so you’ll have some available, and check the numbers regularly to make sure you’re not going over your budget.”

Mike Lorenzo, a 2012 graduate of the University of Texas, urged students to save money by buying textbooks and other supplies from used bookstores, web sites that offer used books at a discount, or through

Stand up for your faith

Audrey Earnhardt emailed us about her experiences as a 2013 graduate of North Greenville University, a Southern Baptist school.

“If you are in the minority among other beliefs, stay strong by learning and growing, not being afraid to confront others in defending your faith, and keeping a fervent prayer life,” she wrote.

Other students suggest getting involved with Catholic campus ministry, joining a Newman Club if one exists, and reaching out to other Catholics on campus.

“Start going to Mass as soon as you start classes — make time for it every week,” said Angele Drouilhet, a Clemson University senior. “Have a buddy to go with because nobody likes to sit at church by themselves.”


Don’t succumb to peer pressure

“Remember your morals,” wrote Deidre Webb, a 2014 graduate of the University of South Carolina School of Law. “You want to have fun, but you don’t want to spend four years with regrets. It’s really easy to abuse alcohol and relationships if you’re trying hard to fit in. If you’re grounded in your faith and morals, you’re more likely to make smart decisions and conduct yourself in a way that your parents and God would appreciate.”