Today is move-in day at my beloved alma mater. You know, the same school I work for now.
(and um, can I just say that these kids are babies?? I don't think I looked like that at 18. I know I didn't. And while some of my outfits circa 2004 may have teetered on the lines of questionable now, I sure as hell didn't squeeze myself into denim underwear on move-in day. Sister, it doesn't matter how tiny you are--no one wants to see the exposed curve of your derriere.)
Basically I am in a state of extreme disbelief that my college shenanigans kicked off seven years ago today. Seven years?! That's a first-grader. Yes, it's hokey and cliche to admit that those four years were some of the absolute best of my life... but there. I did it anyway. Sue me.
I learned so, so much during the marathon that was my shiny, overpriced, private school experience. And most of it wasn't absorbed in the confines of classroom walls. Every girl I call a "best friend," I met as a perky freshman in college. We were all navigating this newfound stage of life (cue Britney's, "Not a Girl, Not Yet a Woman"), embracing school and investing in our social lives...
In the middle of it all, we supported and loved on each other in an environment that is unlike any other we'll ever have in life.
Most of the pivotal experiences of my life have happened in the past seven years, many of them in college... I watched my brothers ship off to two deployments apiece, and witnessed the heartache it caused my family. I fell in love with the South and SEC football. I grew deeper in my faith, and became fascinated with politics. I met tons of professors who would be a source of encouragement to me, half a dozen of whom I could still call for advice. I had a slew of random work experiences, which seriously honed my career focus for later in life. I became smitten with a sweet yorkie-maltese puppy, who I'd have to put to sleep two years later, due to unexpected illness. I soaked up a rich life on a university campus and had my heart break to watch friends not experience the same passion. The one major lesson I wasn't taught before college is that life doesn't pause just because you're having the time of your life. People pass away, relationships fail, disappointment happens, life is still tough. The college experience is so drastically unlike any other era of life, and Baylor was a safe haven for me for a lot of life's pitfalls.
If there's any possible advice I could give to an incoming freshman, it'd be a little of this:
- study for at least an hour longer than you think you should. Your GPA will thank me.
- but when it comes down to it, and a friend really needs you, pull an all-nighter in exchange for a coffee date to play a listening ear. Your soul will appreciate being a good friend more than your GPA will thank my former advice.
- don't be afraid to change your major, but don't think you're weird if you don't (I never did).
- spend as much time on campus as possible. Immerse yourself. It truly molds your entire experience. I had the opportunity to not live in the dorm, since I hail from the same county as Baylor, but I never hesitated to live in the dorm... and I loved every second of it.
- talk to your profs sometimes after class. You'd be amazed to hear their stories, and their encouragement will come at some of the most crucial times in your life.
- don't dress up for class, but don't roll out of bed and skip off either. You want to look cute but a) stay out of the radar as an obvious freshman, and b) not look homeless.
- invest in something bigger than yourself--whether it's a charity, church, work or an extracurricular. Some of my saving moments in college were found when I escaped the stress of class and homework.
- have fun... that sounds oh-so-lame, but college is supposed to be fun... and yes, here I go being all MOM on you, but be careful... be smart. It's all too easy to be caught up in life with people you trust, oblivious to the fact that bad things can still happen.
- don't wish your senior year away because you're ready to grow up and get out there... I did, and I wish I hadn't.
- take a class outside of your comfort zone or class requirements--you'll be so pleasantly surprised at what you discover your passions are.
Okay, I think I'm done... the super relevant thing to remember is to just live.
Live every single minute of it, squeeze every drop out of college that you can. It'll piece you into who you are seven years later, trust me.