College is a once-in-a-lifetime experience – at least for most of us – and the opportunities it affords shouldn’t be wasted.
It would be well and good for me to write an article that was emotionless and many people would glance over it and possibly take some of the advice seriously but this is an instance where I would like to have a heart-to-heart with our readers. This isn’t just an advice column for incoming freshmen – well, it is – but it’s also input that should remain relevant as continue your education.
Walking onto a college campus for the first time can be an overwhelming experience. With so many sights, sounds and new faces it’s hard to really grasp how much of a change your life is about to go through – but with a little bravery you can enjoy it from your first day to your last.
New Student Orientation is something that many people – including myself – will think that they can just blow off. The truth is orientation is a place where you can meet many of the students who will become your friends. I can say with confidence that most of my friends were a part of my orientation group.
Events that force you to interact with your fellow classmates can seem like a complete waste of time but there is a good chance that another tentative face in the crowd will have something in common with you. This isn’t a time to be timid, although you may certainly feel that way. Instead, it’s a time to find new people and invite them over for an evening of swimming at Reed Gym or a movie in your dorm. Orientation and housing events aren’t just procedure; they’re things to be taken advantage of.
This brings me to my main point: college is a social experience. Sure, you’re here to get an education but it is also several years of your life where there are opportunities to meet people that can be a positive force for years to come. Every single one of us will go through an experience in college that feels insurmountable but with friends by your side you will get through it.
Another piece of advice that students will hear over and over again, no matter what year of school they are in, is that they should explore things outside of their majors.
Don’t take this advice lightly. There is a reason why people repeat this over and over again – because it’s true. When I got a job at “The Bengal” I wasn’t a mass communication major – I was in the mechanical engineering program. Every time I go to work I am amazed by the people I meet and it helped me realize that I wouldn’t be happy as an engineer. Exploring different opportunities – even ones that you’re not sure you’ll like – can absolutely change your life and perspective.
Branching out isn’t the only way you’ll change your perspective. Every single student in this school will have an experience that makes them feel absolutely horrible; you will say or do something that feels completely out of character. It might be mean, it might just be embarrassing – but it’s also a learning experience. I’ve had this kind of experience on numerous occasions and it has certainly taught me to think about the way I conduct myself. Learn as much as you can from your mistakes.
Part of the college experience that I have thoroughly enjoyed is living in student housing. Being close to people that you can study or hang out with is an experience like no other. But remember that if you are in student housing – or any shared living space – that there will be a time where you will meet the dreaded “bad roommate.” You might even be the bad roommate. I’m here to tell you that though you might hate it, though you may be sweeping food from crevices where you thought it shouldn’t go, cleaning fluids you never knew existed and desperately trying to air out that “unidentified odor” before your date arrives – it will all be worth it. The proximity to campus, events, friends, study groups and class is fantastic.
Academic life is a huge adjustment. The most brilliant students from high school suddenly have competition that isn’t just their equal, but often their superior. Take the time to realize your shortcomings and find people to help you through. If you struggle with your major or grow to hate what you’re doing it might be time to think about switching. You will be doing something related to your schooling for the rest of your life, so college is a time to take risks and find what suits you.
The first few weeks of school will be ones that you will remember for the rest of the year and that you will look forward to after each summer. With the coming of the new school year ISU hosts concerts on the quad, cultural events and fairs to introduce clubs and educational programs. Go to all of the events you can – and bring the people you meet along the way with you. It is incredibly beneficial to see the community support that this school receives and the wonderful people that make things tick.
Don’t skip out on marching through the arch, be sure to catch a play or comedian at the Stephens Performing Arts Center, go support your sports teams and read my articles about them … because I’m brilliant… Every opportunity you take to enjoy college and interact with the people around you is a chance to make a memory.