It’s so crazy to think that my first semester of college is already over. I can still clearly remember orientation week back in August. Heck, I can still remember high school graduation! That being said, college has been an incredible experience for me so far. I’m studying what I love and I have learned so much about my field…but above all, about myself. As I get ready to embark on a month-long winter break, here are the five biggest lessons I’ve learned about college so far.
1. You are the top priority
I was the overcommitted kid in high school. Constantly bouncing from activities to homework and back again, I never was able to give myself a true break. I was constantly working, and even when I wasn’t, the thought of what I had to do each day always loomed. Coming to college I vowed to change that, because by the end of senior year I was thoroughly worn out. This semester, I chose my activities carefully so that I wouldn’t overwhelm myself. I planned out each day so I knew when I was doing what. But, unlike in high school, work has not been my number one focus.
I’ve done my best to schedule time to myself and with my friends into every day. I like to meditate, go for a walk when the weather is nice, and journal. In terms of friends, we often eat lunch and dinner together. Or we spend some evenings together doing homework. Additionally, I’ve been trying very hard to eat healthfully and to go to the gym at least twice a week. But all that being said…
2. Balance is key (and no is a good word)
In a perfect world, we would sleep soundly every night and we’d always have enough energy to get everything done and see everyone we want to, with some to spare in order to stay up doing assignments. But that’s just not reality. While it’s important to satisfy the different areas of your life, you really have to listen to yourself. Some nights it’s ok to skip out on hanging with friends if you really need to focus on a project or just need to get to bed early.
We are raised to think otherwise, but saying no to doing something (or taking a break from a commitment to recharge) is not considered weak or selfish. In fact, it’s a sign of strength because you know what you need to do to perform your best.
3. Everyone is just doing their thing, so go ahead and do yours.
Let’s be real: high school was a judgy place. What you wore, who you spent your time with, and which activities you were a part of (not to mention what leadership roles you had) were evaluated and assessed by everyone else around you. College just isn’t like that, at least not here at Emerson. There aren’t any organizations that are “uncool.” There isn’t some unspoken dress code. Everyone’s here to pursue their dreams, whatever they may be, and that’s just something that’s kind of understood. So you have every freedom to be and do whatever you wish. And it’s pretty amazing.
4. People want each other to succeed.
Building off of that, everyone is doing their thing, but they also are always willing to help other people out. Coming from a pretty cut throat high school, this was a bit of a culture shock. But so far from what I’ve seen, it’s pretty true.
Whether a film maker needs extras in a movie or an organization needs help setting up an event, people are constantly reaching and having their calls enthusiastically answered. And the whole seniority thing…isn’t really a thing. I just finished a semester-long program called the Student Government Leadership Program. It was led by two faculty advisors and two awesome juniors. But even though they’re upperclassmen, we’re all friends now, and I know that I can go to them for whatever. In general, I’ve noticed that whenever I’m in a group, I don’t always know or remember what class people are in. That doesn’t matter as much as it did in high school, which is really cool. You’re just working together, and that’s all that matters.
5. Don’t be afraid to shoot for the moon.
Additionally, the reverse is true as well — it doesn’t matter if you’re a freshman. If you work hard and are generally a good person, people are going to respect you, no matter what year they are. Other than certain course requirements, there isn’t much of anything that is limited to you because you’re new here. So, don’t think that being a freshman means you shouldn’t dive right in. Go for it!
I knew I wanted to work for the radio station at some point in my time here, and when the news team needed one more person to write a story for them the first week, I decided to take the plunge. It was so worth it, and I produced three stories over the course of the semester. Getting involved and taking the jump your first year opens lots of opportunities – because I did SGLP, one of the student leaders invited me to be a part of the committee that plans an end-of-year recognition award ceremony!
College is a big and nerve-wracking change. But it’s also a very rewarding one. Coming to Emerson is by far the best life decision I’ve ever made, and I can’t wait to see where next semester takes me!