The Things I'd Tell My Younger Self About Graduating College in 2021
The things I wish I knew
My college experience began like any other. In 2017 when I started my first year, I was an eager high school graduate living my dream of playing college sports. I had no idea what college would actually be like. I knew nothing about greek life or majors or what I wanted to study and I honestly didn't really care. I wanted to meet new people and introduce myself as the person I thought I was without the ball and chain of knowing everyone you've gone to school with since kindergarten. Everytime I heard the word "college" it was always either tacked onto, "I met my lifelong friends while I was at college" or "college will be the best years of your life" so naturally I couldn't wait. Being 5 months away from graduating college where I've now spent almost half of it in a pandemic has really challenged my expectations of my senior year.
Making friends is the best thing you can do for yourself. Learn as many names as you possibly can, the more familiar faces you develop the more at home you'll feel at school. When you're a first year, everyone is in the same boat you are so they should be friendly too. That being said, don't expect every friend you make your first year to stick with you for the rest of your life. Or even the rest of your years at college. You're all still figuring out who you are, but even if they don't last long those relationships still matter. When the pandemic hits you'll lose touch with a lot of people. Sometimes you need to reach out just as much as you need them to. College will challenge you in ways you've never been pushed before. Your real friends will have your back.
When you go to parties enjoy the music and have fun acting like idiots. Do it as much as you want your first couple of years because by your third year it will all be behind you. Watch how much you drink and make sure you and your friends are always safe. If you make a new friend make sure your friends know who you're with and where you're going. Let them know you're safe and when you'll be back. Don't accept drinks from strangers even if they seem nice and go to your school. People can be decietful.
Don't let people's opinions stop you from expressing yourself. College is about having fun and finding yourself. As long as you're resepctful and not harming anyone do whatever makes you happy. If things don't go the way you'd like them to then be open to new possibilities. If you lose some friends along the way you'll make new ones. You want to keep the people in your life who have your best interest and support you. When people leave you're not losing them, they're losing you.
Online classes can be really nice but don't use it as an excuse to slack off. If you want to do well in your classes pay attention everytime your professor speaks and go to every class. You don't always have to do the readings to get an A, but it helps. If there is something on a homework assignment that you don't understand, ask for help. Going to office hours helps you build a relationship with your professor. Remember to treat them with resepct, professors are people too. When you take their class they're basically your boss, so I can confirm a little brown nosing does work. At the end of the day you get out what you put into your classes.
But grades don't determine your value, you do. One exam doesn't define you. If you're struggling, ask for help. Especially if you're going through a hard time. Professors are willing to make accomodations if you're reasonable and give them respect and notice first. They know you're young and learning. But don't expect them to always listen. Some will absolutely fail you if they think you deserve it. But learning how to communicate your needs and shortcomings in order to improve will change your life and prevent you from digging yourself into holes you can't get yourself out of.
If you have trouble staying organized or keeping on task, make clear goals to decide what is important to you and prioritize them. Think a little about how you will execute your goals. You can't control every outcome but it will help motivate you to have a plan. Writing things down helps you remember them and you can set reminders on your technology of choice.
Things happen in life you could have never expected. Sometimes the world as you know it falls apart. You still don't know what's going to happen. Everyone is trying their best and so are you. It's okay. It's okay if you don't know what your passion is or what career you want to pursue. There isn't a point in your life where you're supposed to know what will happen. It just comes a time where you know. Find your passions and then pursue them and the rest will fall into place. The good thing is life goes on.