Take advantage of the opportunites presented. Making that transition to college can be stressful and scary, but it is important to put yourself out there to make sure your getting the best experience. I am a shy person; while I did participate in many of the events offered at school, I found myself holding back. I would go back and tell myself not to be afraid of the new and embrace the experiences. If you don't then you find yourself looking around alone. Make connections and try new things is my first piece of advice. When I leave college, I want to have fond memories and know that I experienced my time in college to the best of my abilites. Proritizing would be my next piece of advice. Wanting to make friends and fitting in is fine, but school work needs to come first. High school counselors and professors stressed the importance of making a schedual to manage study time. Get the work done first and then there is all the time in the world to make new friends and have a night out on the town. You won't miss out and school won't fall behind.
If I could, I would sit myself down and say, "Listen, college is going to be so incredibly difficult. I know you think you know how hard it will be, but you have absolutely no idea. For the first semester you will come back from class and you will cry. You will cry tears of frustration, tears of loneliness, tears of sorrow, tears heartache, tears of failure... You will call Mom and Dad and all you will do is cry. Speaking of Mom and Dad, this place you are so ready to leave, this home, this town, these people; yeah, you are going to wish you could go back in time and return to this place. You are going to look back and remember how happy you were and how simple life was. In college, you will be tested in so many ways. You will question your beliefs, your identity, and your strength. But you know what? You will grow so much! Through your struggles and your sorrow you will rediscover the world and more importantly, yourself. You will fail. Multiple times. But after your failures, you will succeed. And there is nothing more satisfying than that.”
With only a limited amount of words to express my thoughts, I would have to say that I've gotten many things out of my college experience. First of all, I've gotten the opportunity to have professors who are experts in their field of study and genuinely care about the success of their students. All of my professors are so dedicated to their work. You can tell it is more of a passion of theirs than just a job. Secondly, I've gained many new friends and have been exposed to so many different people. I've met people from my hometown that I've never come in contact with before, and I've met people from foreign countries. Lastly, because of transferring to Augustana College, I was able to get a part-time job at an elementary school after-school program that I absolutely adore! It is such an essential part of my day, going to work and seeing all of my students! I feel that attending college has been valuable because of the experiences I've encountered and because it is preparing me and getting me ready for my future as an elementary school teacher.
Hannah, you’re not going to believe what I’m about to tell you. I can’t give you much advice, but listen up. If you don’t pay any attention now, it will take you two years to figure this out. You’ll spend your freshman and sophomore year stressed, anxious, and not enjoying life like you once did. Like I said, you’re not going to believe this, but when you get to college, care less. Care less about your grades, they will fall into place. You don’t need perfect grades, you need to love learning. You can’t fully appreciate your education if you’re constantly worried about getting all A’s. Care less about what people think about you. College is about so much more than your education – you’ll meet people who will change your life and create relationships that hold incredible value. Hannah, this seems so simple, but you need to hear it now. Be yourself! I know you’re excited to go to a new place where you can “be anyone you want to be,” but the most successful and liked person is the one you are, without trying to please everyone.
College is different than anything you've ever done. It is not like the movies; yes, there are aspects that are very, very similar (the parties are INSANE! You will love them, but don't overindulge), but it isn't like how you think. You've committed to a school that is highly regarded in the midwest. You are highly regarded in your school and your community. You're a role model and know what it takes to excel in school and athletics. If you hear any of this, listen now: Neither give up, nor give in. You'll be culture shocked. You'll be academically tested. You'll doubt your athletic abilities. But behind all of this, good will persevere. You'll feel so alone and begin to believe that coming to this school was the worst thing for you. But believe me, it is actually the best. God knows what he's doing and he's completely in control. As soon as you trust in Him, everything in your unfamiliar and strange life will begin to feel familiar and completely normal. You will finally feel like Emily again, and with that comes happiness.
You have the most wonderful gift--life. An education is going to help you make the most of it, but life doesn't begin after graduation. It's happening right now. Studying, homework, experience, all of those things are important, but before you can really put them to use, have dreams. In college, you will go to Argentina, play rugby, and write poetry. You will be amazing and goofy and lazy. What's more important is that you don't dwell on what others want. Take advice now and then, but follow your gut (you have intuition for a reason!). The first days, weeks, months will determine how you shape your days. So start running early. Being away from Mom and Dad will feel so freeing, but coming home will become less frequent. Hug them. Know that there are some lectures worth waking up for, and some that aren't; get up anyway! Like Dad always says, it's better to be making money than spending it (emphasis on not spending)--keep your day job, it'll remind you that doing homework isn't so bad. Live a little, I'll see you in New Student Orientation.
My freshman year college experience has been challenging. Entering a new environment and struggling to find a place, I have stumbled on a part of me that I did not know existed. Deep within my old high school self, I found a strong, confident young woman who cares deeply about the society we live in. The Augustana Library housed my journey to self discovery. Picking up book after book from the shelf, I began to explore parts of the world I had only seen vaguely in passing. The worlds ails have become my ails. Through exploring the world through books and the broad reaching liberal arts education, I found the woman I hope to become: a social worker. Yet, the question could be begged, why attend a liberal arts college to discover yourself. My answer is the journey to self discovery is like a hero's question. There will be times when you need help and guidance or times you desend into a dark place. In the liberal arts environment you are surrounded with other students experiencing the same things you are. My exerience has been incredible.
The first piece of advice I would give to my high school self is to get involved when given the opportunity. So many of the friends I have made are through my work and the clubs I've joined. Clubs and organizations are a great way to meet people with similar views and interests. Another piece of advice I would give to my high school self is to not be afraid to ask for help, especially with homework. Professors are always more than willing to help students with any questions. Get to know your professors so you feel comfortable asking them. Also, tutors and friends are always available for help so don't be afraid to ask them either. The first test in any course is always a little hard, but once you get through that one and know where you are study wise, the rest is smooth sailing. Finally, take advantage of any opportunity given, whether it is an extra seminar or a leadership position or a fun j-term class. You never know how much you like something until you try it, so don't let those opportunities for new experiences pass right on by.
From college I have been able to learn the importance of being part of a team. I currently play for the college tennis team, where we have been practicing together for the past 5 months in order to prepare for the season. Over these 5 months I have experienced the type of devotion and compatibility that must be mantained to create a positive working environment. The role models of the team are able to challenge us all with their outstanding work ethic and positive encouragement. Other members of the team bring the competition by constantly striving to improve. I believe that the true definition of a team is a community that works together not only to achieve a goal, but to make each other better. Without support like this, we would not be at the level of play that we are at today. I plan to carry over these values into my schoolwork and future career. Teamwork is the missing link that many companies fail to notice, and I plan to incorporate the positive aura that teamwork creates into many of the challenges that I will face.
The best advice I could possibly regarding any part of the college experience, whether it be seeking a college or becoming part of one you have chosen, is to be inquisitive. Asking lots of questions is the best way to find out about what a school is really like. The saying that "there is no such thing as a stupid question" is extremely true when it comes to looking for a college. Ask away! That way, you can learn about what the school has to offer for whatever it is you want to know about (be that money, academics, food, etc). Not only that, but by asking questions, you are beginning the networking process at a school you (or your child) may very well end up attending. You are meeting new people, and connecting. One of my best friends I met when I was a high school student coming to a visit day at my school. By asking questions, you are gaining information, creating networks, and maybe even forging new bonds with other people heading in the same direction as you in life. What better way to find the right college for you?