Today is the first day of college for many students – this is something most people probably don’t pay much attention to, but when you live in a college town, it’s all anyone talks about. It probably doesn’t help that I work with mostly college students.
But, hearing my coworkers’ stories often reminds me of college, even though it’s been 12 years since I started and a whopping 8 since I graduated! However, working at LSU for almost 7 years… sometimes it feels like I never left (until I actually did).
For the longest time, I never even considered going to college. Neither of my parents went, and I figured their lives were pretty good. But the older I got, the more my friends talked about college as if it wasn’t even a question: of COURSE they were going.
When I presented an interest in higher ed, my parents graciously offered to send me wherever I desired. They also offered a piece of advice that ended up being invaluable to me: get out of state.
My parents knew that I had dreams of leaving Indiana, and that if I didn’t leave for college, I would probably never leave. And so, long story short, I ended up in Baton Rouge to attend Louisiana State University.
I won’t lie, it was scary as hell the day we had to pack up and leave the house I grew up in. Even after an entire semester down South, I was homesick. It was a huge culture shock. But of course, I wouldn’t trade it for any other experience.
I learned a lot in those years — in and out of the classroom. I look back at it, and sure, there are moments when I wish I could have worked less, partied more, perhaps studied more, or been more social. But I am who I am, and a lot of that had to do with my college years.
I saw an article on Huffington Post offering advice to incoming college freshman. A lot of it was pretty worthless, so I’ll offer the only three pieces of advice I think you’ll need:
- Get out. If you can’t go far away to college, at least make new friends — no one wants to relive high school. It also helps to explore the city you’re in; get off campus and see what’s out there.
- Do the extracurriculars. Sure, the whole experience of college is overwhelming, but you’ve got to join a club, or something! It should come as no surprise that I was a complete media rat and worked for 4/5 media groups on campus. Not only did I make a little money, but I made some life-long friends. I also met upperclassmen that gave me invaluable advice about classes and graduating. And honestly? I learned more in my media work than I did in any class I took, ever. It looked great on my resume and it packed my portfolio.
- Follow through. Go to class. It’s so easy to skip, but if you actually go, it’s really easy to make good grades. I learned it the hard way! If you go to class, pay attention and take notes, studying is much easier, and the tests are a breeze. And by all means, just graduate. College can be overwhelming, and there are times when I was tempted to quit. But not having a degree is going to make your entire life that much more difficult. Take it from me: the job hunt is literally a HUNT. Get that degree!
I won’t say that college is the best time of your life; because if that’s the case, then what’s the point of living after college? I will say, though, that it’s a unique time in your life and it’s certainly a great opportunity to learn about yourself — the person you’ll be post-graduation.