College Tips from a Senior
by Adrienne Edwards | University of Pennsylvania
As with the beginning of all ends, the beginning of my senior year prompts a deeper reflection on my college experience. While I solidify getaway plans and write my bucket list for the upcoming year, I remember some of the lessons I stumbled through along the way. Here are five college tips I wish I could go back and tell my freshman self:
1) Friend people on Facebook with different activities from different social circles.
It’s easy to meet some people you like in the first four days and hang out with them for the next four years. I’ve found that my college experience was richer than I imagined because I happened to meet people that were different from me. Most of the learning that happens in college happens outside of the classroom through the people you meet. Facebook is an easy way to have tons of people at your fingertips, and it may lead you to a discussion or event you may have never attended otherwise.
2) Get to know juniors and seniors well.
The best life advice I received was not from a typical mentorship relationship or through awkward networking with successful people, but through other college students that were just one or two years older than I was. While older mentors are certainly valuable, the fresh, practical and applicable advice that comes from someone who just went through a similar circumstance can be useful when you come to a crossroads. In addition, older college students have inside information such as what professors not to take, where to get inexpensive books, what parties are the most fun, etc. Don’t be afraid to ask us about something. As an upperclassman, I’m always willing to help a freshman or a sophomore, because I remember just how much juniors and seniors helped me.
3) Say yes to opportunities you may enjoy more often than you say no.
Like I mentioned in #1, most of the learning that happens in college happens outside of the classroom. An opportunity to try something different is just another way to learn more about a topic or industry and learn more about yourself in the process. If you’re interested in trying something because you think you may enjoy it, just go for it. Don’t turn down options out of fear of rejection, disapproval, or the worst of them all – failure. None of the latter three emotions is worth passing up a chance to explore a potential passion. Always remember: you may never have a chance to do it again.
4) Be academically explorative earlier rather than later.
Here’s a secret: your freshman and sophomore year grades do not matter all that much. They do matter some, because they set the foundation for your G.P.A., and they matter when you apply for summer opportunities close to those years, so always try to get good grades. But, in the grand scheme of it all, many post-undergraduate options are much more forgiving of less-than-awesome freshman and sophomore year grades than less-than-awesome junior and senior year grades. By time you reach your last two years in college, you are supposed to have figured it out. While there is still some wiggle room in your early college years, you should do all the figuring out you can.
5) Worry less. Things usually work out.
It’s easy for Type-As like myself to worry and stress about stuff in college – what your major will be, is your social life adequate, are you doing too many/enough extra-curriculars, what you are going to do this summer, what are you going to do with your life, etc. It’s worth it to ponder some of these questions, but don’t let worrying get in the way of living and enjoying your college experience. Don’t sit at home studying for one more hour and miss the study break or jam session going on, and don’t spend hundreds of hours searching for the major that will get you the job of your dreams. Be more willing to go with the flow instead of trying to have everything planned out. Some of the best experiences I had in college happened without any of my own doing. It’s amazing how easily things can work themselves out when you let them.
Freshmen, this is just a handful of ideas that may eventually be useful. I still have a year of college learning to do myself, but let me be the first to say: welcome to four of the best years of your life.Adrienne Edwards is a voices contributor for Next Gen Journal. She is currently studying Philosophy, Politics, and Economics at the University of Pennsylvania.