Dear stubborn self; the one wearing mid-drift shirts, straightening your beautiful curly hair, and reading spark-notes instead of books assigned to you.
You will grow up and regret that you spent so much time nit-picking at your education instead of picking teachers' brains. You are going to look at pictures of yourself one day and realize how beautiful you were, though you spent countless hours looking for your confidence outside of yourself. You are going to realize that education isn't about good grades and regurgitation of information but rather it will become your greatest yearning as an adult- you will grow up eager to learn, not hoe to solve equations but how to apply problem solving to your life's difficulties. You will not recite world history, but learn how to be creative in creating your own. You will miss all the time you had to read and travel in the world of words, and you will regret not enjoying the time that all that is expected of you is to learn. One day you will sit in an office, craving the classroom.
Remember you are smart, beautiful, and talented -- if you choose to be.
If I could go back in time, I would tell the high school version of myself two things: learn how to balance your social and academic life and realize that you might not get straight A's during your first semester. At the begining of my freshmen year I made so many new friends and found it difficult to commit to both my social life and my academics. I wanted to be the best student I could possibly be, but at the same time I wanted to enjoy my college experience and new independence. I frequently found myself unable to do both simultaneously and asked myself many times "how can I balance fun and academics when I feel like they are both so important?" Along the line I became better at time management and planning. Even though I felt like I was a good time manager in high school, I realized that my social life was not as important to me as in college. I also noticed college was more challenging and I struggled to get the A's I was used to in high school. Improving my study habits and determination helped become a better student second semester.
You are a high school senior and terrified that you will not do anything capital-G-Great. You have worked hard and done what you are “supposed to” and are off to a good college… but will it be more of the same mediocre drudgery? Not at all. You paid your dues and are off to have some incredible adventures. You earned it. Little do you know, in the next four years you will bike down the SoCal coast, go caving in Israel, move to (and fall in love with) Spain, backpack through nine countries, experience a kilted New Years Eve in Scotland and get frostbite one year later in Canada, study Arabic with the State Department in Oman where you will get gutsy and dress as a turbaned man so you can jog through the mountain villages, run a marathon upon your return, and write two senior theses in English and Spanish literature. So, do not be afraid. You will be Great. And lighten up, dammit. Laugh off mistakes and seek out all the little joys nestled in the world around you. Love the place you are in, the people you are with, and–most of all–yourself.
If I were given the opportunity to go back in time and talk to my high school self I would tell her that even though college seems scary, you will succeed. Now is the perfect time to welcome change into your life, and you should do so with an open heart. Leaving your mom, who is also your best friend, is going to be hard but in the end you will be best friends for the rest of your life and no matter how far apart you are from each other that bond will never be broken. Choose the college of your dreams and jump in head first, because college is the best time of your life. Every opportunity is a blessing and going to the college of your dreams is the best thing that has happened to your life in a long time.
In one word, my college experience has been transformative. When I entered college, I was a naïve girl. There was no peer pressure in my high school experience because my friends supported each other’s life choices. On the first night of college orientation the cheers of my so-called friends welcomed me: “Brianna! You came! Take a shot!” They thrust a shot glass into my hand; it was not a question, but an instruction. For a time, my life went as such: I acquiesced any requests that came my way. It took time, but after two and a half years of college I have realized that the only person who has requests worthy of my acquiescing is myself. I wrote my moral stances on paper and I came to realize I am proud to be a strong, self-confident, purposeful woman. While, yes, I have received my BA in Psychology and the knowledge that comes with that; I have gotten much more out of my college education. The veering of my moral path, and the process that led to its re-direction, illustrated something my father used to make: most of the learning happens outside the classroom.
Ideally, I would instruct myself to invent a time expander machine so I would be able to fit everything I want to do and try at Pitzer into the actual time I have at college! Since that is not the most realistic advice (at least not in this world), I would clue myself into the most challenging lesson I had to learn during my first year: I am not necessarily going to get along with everyone. It took me some time to realize that it is okay if I did not mesh perfectly with every single one of my peers. I would let my high school self know that it will take effort to find the people who I will have meaningful relationships with, but it will be well worth it because I will make connections with fantastic, life-long friends. With that said, I would tell high school me to get ready because college is going to be an exhilarating adventure!
The advice I would give high school me about the transition to college life would be to enjoy every bit of it. It is important to be positive about this change. You are in a new place, explore it. If you are living on campus, this is your new home. Talk to people, your neighbors, and get to know them. Also, do not be afraid to become involved in campus life. I know that in your first year you are adjusting and trying to become accustomed to the workload, but it is important to have extracurricular activities other than work. By joining clubs and volunteering through the college, you will meet new people, become a part of the community, and thus become comfortable in your new lifestyle.
As someone who's been there, done that, allow me to offer some highlights based on my personal experience
Students offer their methods and advice for preparing for the most dreaded times of the school year
Interview several students, both students who enjoy and do not enjoy their college experience. Specifically question students in your field of interest, tell them what you want from your education, and ask them for guidance. Ask professors in your field directly how an education at that college will prepare you for your goals. After that, research what campus life is like from social activities to the cafeteria and try to place yourself on an average day at the school.
Choose the location that is right for you. No matter how amazing the program is, if you dont enjoy living there, you wont be happy at the school and succeeding will be infinitely more difficult. Also, another step to finding the right college is to choose the school that fits what you want to do, not what your parents want you to do. Don't be afraid to tell your parents you want to major in studio art instead of engineering, or business instead of english. Its your future, not your parents.
To make the most out of the college experience, have fun! Get involved in student groups. Even silly ones (those are the best). If you find people that share your interests, you will be set. And if all else fails, just remind yourself that whatever insecurities you have about college are going to be better to deal with than being attacked by a team of nijas at a taco stand.
Make sure you visit the school to make sure it is a right fit for you and your paerents.
Throw out the rankings and do some soul searching about yourself. Figure out your own priorities, and don't follow a single academic department or extracurricular activity. Being happy in college is about having a general fit. Try to picture yourself at different types of colleges/universities and find what feels most comfortable and natural to you. Go through the college website and look through some course websites. Are grades determined by group projects and class participation, or by one single test at the end?
When you do your college visits, spend time on the weekends, during the week, and at different times and places during the day. Don't let yourself be swayed by one dead area of campus, or one single great party.
Eat your veggies and remember to pack lots of underwear. Exercise and watch what you eat.
In this video, seniors talk about their experiences in F&M. They also give lot fo advises to incoming freshmen.
Find something you love and follow it no matter what.
When in the course of human events...go to Pitzer if you can afford it.
the college you go to and your expirience is only as good as you make it!
Apply to all of the colleges that you have visited and felt "neutral" towards. Who knows, that one college that was just okay could become the college of your dreams in a year. Visit the schools or at least take virtual tours of the school. Read the descriptions on the college website of the college goals/interests. Those descriptions also describe the intersts of the students. Also, apply to more "safety" schools than in reach or dream schools. Sometimes, we might get a little arrogant of ourselves and we all want to open a thick, manilla envelope saying that we are offered a full-ride scholarship than a rejection letter from Harvard.
When one is attending that dream school or maybe a decent school, make your experience dream-worthy. Go for it! Discover what "it" is. Take chances. One must know what a failure is to truly understand what success is. Our failures are merely indications that something within our life is not right. Change that something. Discover what makes you smile and what you are passionate about. When you find that passion, you have found your major. Above everything else, just live and "be".
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