By: Jenna Piotrowicz
January 24th, 2023
The years spent in college are a young adult’s most crucial learning period. New experiences of freedom can be exciting, but can also be incredibly overwhelming.
Throughout the years, there were many things I look back on and wish I could tell my younger self. There are many lessons that you learn in such a short time, and by the end, you realize how impactful your decisions and experiences have been along the way.
The following are pieces of advice that might just help you figure things out while on your college journey:
Lesson One: Being selfish is okay sometimes.
It is well known that college isn’t an easy time in your life. There are many more responsibilities, such as taking care of yourself without the supervision of guardians or parents and attending social events, which sometimes seem like the only way to meet people. After being given all these responsibilities, it is easy to find yourself under stress. But it is most important to remember that it is best to do whatever benefits you most, and saying no is completely okay. It is okay to skip that night out with your friends to study, and it is also okay to go have a fun time with your friends to take a break and get your mind off of your work. I promise it will still be there when you get back. Putting yourself first is necessary sometimes in order to get through the tough times of your college years.
Lesson Two: Communicating with your professors.
One of the things that changed my entire experience of college classes was when I began to actually communicate and talk to my professors. By getting to know them on a more personal level, I found it much easier to ask questions or let them know if there were things preventing me from being in class or doing my best work. We often forget that our teachers are human as well, and by communicating with them, you begin to learn how understanding they can be if you give them the chance. They can help you in your times of need or trouble, or even if you just want to learn more or talk to someone.
They also can offer incredible connections and networking opportunities, ones that you might not have had otherwise. These connections with your professors are also key in asking for a letter of recommendation later on, as then the professor can write more genuinely about you as a person, and not just a student.
Lesson Three: Mindfulness and breaks.
It is easy to fall into the cycle of simply going through the motions. Waking up, going to class, doing homework, eating, sometimes working, and going to bed. That cycle can be incredibly damaging if you don’t find the time to take breaks and do the things you enjoy. Even the smallest things can be turned into more enjoyable experiences if you practice mindfulness. Being aware of the beauty and calmness on your walk to class, or the tastes of your home-cooked dinner, or the way your shower feels as you cleanse from your day—all these things can become more special if thought about in a mindful way.
It is also okay to truly take a break. Your mental health matters more than missing one class, and prioritizing your sleep matters more than studying all night long. It is okay to allow yourself to unwind and detach from your stress.
Lesson Four: The path isn’t linear.
A big doubt many have coming into and throughout college is that they aren’t on time or doing things the same way others around them are. THAT IS OKAY. It does not matter if you take more than four years to graduate, and it is okay to switch your major as many times as you need. Finding what you love to do and gaining your best possible experience from your time in college is what is most important. No one is on the same clock, and you don’t need to be either.
Lesson Five: Be yourself.
I know, I know. Although it does sound cheesy, this is one of the most important lessons you can learn during your time in college. These years will allow you to form friendships that you can count on for the rest of your life. By being yourself, you attract the people who will truly value you as you are, and without changing. Your overall happiness will also improve as you surround yourself with those who align with your own values and interests.
As seniors, many of us look back and wish we had made more of the time we had together. It’s a cliche, but the time really does fly by, and before you know it you are putting on that cap and gown, saying your goodbyes, and moving on to the next part of your life.
So, make the most of every day, and recognize the beauty of this precious time in your life. It won’t last forever. Cherish it, and give it your all.
Jenna Piotrowicz is a senior majoring in professional and public writing, aspiring to be a writer or editor in her future. In her free time, she enjoys watching movies, TV shows and working on her own screenplays, hoping to create the next big feature film.