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Just a Thought - What I learned in college PDF Print E-mail
Monday, June 04, 2012 9:45 AM

To the graduating classes of 2012: Today is your day. Your mountain is waiting! So ... get on your way.
Oops. Wrong author. (Though I wish I’d written that.) Yes, Dr. Seuss has dispensed some wonderful, essential advice over the years, and Oh, the Places You’ll Go! has become a staple graduation party gift. So I thought I’d put in my two cents and share with the graduating seniors what I learned in college.

As much as I love my situation now, college really did comprise the best years of my life. I’m happy now, but in a different way. College is just the one time of my life when I had the most carefree fun, without having to worry about a lot of responsibilities like I do now. I chose to go to a college that no one in my graduating high school class went to, because I loved the idea of “starting over.” The cliques from high school are no more in college. You’re a brand-new person, a clean slate. No one in college had any preconceived notions about me, and I could be whoever I wanted, whoever I really was. College really solidified my personality. Be open to meeting new people of all different backgrounds, and let them challenge your long-held beliefs. You might change a lot of your thinking at college. And that’s okay. It’s all about learning and growing. And I am eternally grateful for the friends I made who have forever altered my perceptions.
Enjoy your ability to do what you want. Looking back, I took for granted all the freedom I had. Don’t take this freedom for granted. You will, though, just like I did, because until you are married with children, you can’t quite grasp how your life will change. So while you have the chance, go out – go to parties, go to clubs, go anywhere. You’re young, and you’ll bounce back much more quickly than you will ten years from now. A hangover is never fun, but it’s much less fun with a needy toddler or two screaming in your ear.

In between the parties, think about what you want to be when you grow up. I’m 33 and I still don’t know, so don’t sweat it if you don’t, but choose your major carefully. Research your chances of getting a job in that field. Do what you’re passionate about, or you’ll never succeed – at least not to your full potential. Get to know your professors. Even if you’re in a class that has stadium seating, stay after class or go to the professor’s office hours. Make your presence known. This helped me tremendously. It shows you really care about the class, and instructors care more for students who care. I’m still in touch with several of my college professors, who I now consider friends.

Take chances. Be impulsive. This goes back to the “being young” thing. Leave college with no regrets. I once skipped two days of class and took a Greyhound to an Aerosmith concert. And it was a blast. I also bought an albino Burmese python on a whim, which caused my roommate to sprint out of the apartment in tears (Sorry, Stacey). Now I’m not suggesting you follow my lead here; these are just personal examples. But you want stories to tell your grandchildren, right? No matter what, though, be careful. Always protect yourself – and that goes for more than seat belts.

Speaking of roommates, you might be forced to live with someone you don’t like. Even if he or she is your BFF when you get to college, living together is not always a picnic, so there might be times you want to strangle this person. This will adequately help prepare you for marriage, as someday in the distant future you will certainly want to strangle your spouse on a semi-regular basis. If you get bummed about roommate issues, get out of the dorm or apartment for a while. Take a run or a drive. Call someone from home. Tell yourself that this, too, shall pass. Bad roommates at least let you appreciate it when you get a good one ... and if nothing else, again – this might give you some stories for your grandchildren.

Basically, when you go off to college, live it up. Study as hard as you party; I don’t mean to minimize the importance of academics. Do all your homework, and do it well. Push yourself to try and get the best grades possible. If there’s something you’re struggling with, get a tutor. (And then you can reward yourself for getting straight A’s by buying an exotic pet!) But live in the moment. Have fun and try not to worry about too much; you have plenty of time for that in the future. Graduate college with no regrets because one day, when you’re running late for work as you’re cleaning baby puke off your shirt, you’ll really wish you had gone to that toga party in the fall of 2012.

Sara Berelsman lives in Fort Jennings with her husband and their two daughters. She wants to go back to school.


Last Updated on Tuesday, November 06, 2012 4:03 PM

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