I’ve never feared blinking like I do today. The last time I did, four years went by.
Time is a captivating thing. We can’t see it passing or hear it coming. We can’t feel it moving, yet we know it always is. Time has a way of making 365 long days into one short year. In retrospect, I wish I had more of it. I wish I could have managed it better, wasted less and saved more. Not because I’m unhappy with how it was spent, but because there’s a chapter of my life that’s coming to a close. And I wish I could do it one more time.
If I could turn back the college clock and sit on a dorm room futon with my younger self, there’s four things I’d tell her.
Say yes to everything
There will be a common theme in your college career: the “I can’t do it” one. It never ceases to amaze me how long you will stare dumbfoundedly at a mountainous to-do list. You will convince yourself at least twice a year that you’re overworked, underpaid and undeserving of this complete hoax that they call education. Only in that moment, when you’ve bitten off more then you can chew, will you understand how capable you really are.
Say yes, try everything. On the days that you fully believe you can’t do it, you’ll do it anyway.
“It’s not about what you see, it’s about how you see it.” -Tim Scully, communication and journalism professor
What you may not realize now, but eventually will, is that every single course comes with a lens that’s meant to shift the way you view the world. You would be doing a disservice to yourself if you only ever argue what you already believe. Keep those lenses; take them with you.
You won’t get it right the first time around
College is like a puzzle. The first year is spent finding the corner pieces and putting together the edge, like a skeleton of human interests. You decide you kind of like speaking, writing and communication. And you kind of like the smoothies in the basement of Koch Commons.
The second year, you stare at the puzzle for a while before opting to put in a backpack and drag it to Plums. Lose a few pieces on the dance floor, trade a couple with friends, drop one in a red solo cup. Time well spent.
The last two years you’ll arrange those pieces 100 different times. After attempting to squeeze an internship, four classes, one job and a few volunteer hours into one puzzle, you’ll throw the pieces on the floor. And then you’ll pick them up in the morning before your 8 a.m. and keep arranging until they fall into place. You won’t get it right the first time around, but you will get it right.
“Good writers don’t just write good sentences. You have to be a writer of sentences with a degree in architecture, alchemy, psychology, political science … oh, and English helps, too.” – Matthew Batt, English professor
One of the most brilliant parts of college is the fact that everything you learn will be worth learning, because real life is not divided by majors. It’s the culmination of street smarts, book smarts and above all else, a constant curiosity. Make a point to remember what seems insignificant because when college ends, there’s no such thing.
Carly Samuelson can be reached at email@example.com.