Opinion: Nine (and Three-Quarters) Things Harry Potter Taught Me About College

While some of us are still fixated on receiving our Hogwarts acceptance letters, others realize that the lives of these witches and wizards aren’t too far off from our own as college students. As a fellow Gryffindor and Harry Potter fan, here are nine important lessons Harry Potter taught me about being a college student.

  1. Don’t judge people by initial appearances. Big and burly Hagrid turned out to be one of the warmest, most loving characters in the whole series. Sirius Black was fresh out of Azkaban when he met Harry, but revealed himself to be a doting godfather. The friendships you make in school run deeper than appearances, and sometimes you have to give an unexpected someone a chance. 
  1. Some professors are certifiably crazy. Undoubtedly, you will run into a few nutty Professor Trelawneys and undesirable Professor Umbridges… but do not despair, if Harry could manage, so can we.
  1. Don’t shy away from collaboration when you’re in need of help. In the Goblet of Fire, Harry addresses most of his Triwizard tasks on his own, summoning his Firebolt to procure his dragon egg and attempting to rescue as many underwater hostages as he can. However, when Harry and Cedric join forces to fight a cursed Viktor Krum and an acromantula, they find themselves both victorious, even if only for a moment. It’s okay to ask for help when you need it—through collaboration, huge feats can be mastered and victories can be shared. 
  1. Knowledge is power, but intelligence isn’t everything. Hermione used knowledge and wit to save Ron and Harry, but sometimes, Harry and Ron’s courage and bravery provided the balance needed to carry them through. Equipping yourself with the knowledge to make the right decisions is amazing, but having the courage to employ this knowledge to help yourself and others is even better.
  1. You are not the product of your circumstances, and your fate can be whatever you choose. We all know of the Neville Longbottom glow-up (I may or may not still be waiting for mine). But, one other important thing Neville shows us is that no matter where you come from, you have the ability to determine the person you want to become. Neville’s parents were tortured into insanity and he earned a shy, clumsy and forgetful reputation. By the series’ end, Neville shows off a bit of Gryffindor bravery when he slays Nagini, striking down others’ expectations of him and becoming the person he wants to be. In just four short years, you make the decisions about becoming the person you want to be, no matter where you care from or what everyone else seems to be telling you to do. Follow your passion!
  1. Fooooood glorious food—endlessly refilling food from the Great Hall is a beautiful thing. While we may not have tables hundreds of feet long, goblets filled to the brim with swirling liquids and magically refilling dishes, our school dining halls are pretty great too, if I may say so myself.
  1. Consider cracking open a textbook before Week 5. Unlike the beady-eyed, vicious Monster Book of Monsters required for Care of Magical Creatures, your textbooks probably won’t bite you if you attempt to open them (emphasis on probably). Midterms will bite you, however, if you don’t study. You’ll be the one saying “leviosar” instead of “leviosa”—and you don’t want to be that guy, do you?
  1. One bad final will not make or break you. Harry Potter failed his Divination and History of Magic O.W.L.s and he turned out just fine. Even Fred and George boasted their O.W.L. failures—and they became two of the most successful entrepreneurs Hogwarts knew. 
  1. True friendship will get you through anything. Harry, Hermione, and Ron met in passing in a Hogwarts Express car their first year of school, but formed an eternal bond that extends far beyond a seven-book series. Know that the friends you make in college are ones that you will keep and rely on forever. You may not need to take down the Dark Lord together—but the right friends will still stick by your side through anything. 

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