College and career readiness services - Steps to the Future

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In her own words: The first year

I love the work I do!  No, I really, really love the work I do!  Guiding young people through the transition from high school to college is amazing, challenging, exciting and frustrating at different times. One of the best parts of my work is staying in touch with my students after they matriculate to college. Sometimes, they even agree to write a guest blog. Shannon O, a drama major at the University of North Carolina - Greensboro, is my first guest blogger. Thank you Shannon.

They say your college years are the best times of your life, so enjoy them as much as you can. They forgot to mention that they fly by. Fast. 

Just a couple weeks ago, I finished my freshman year of college. It’s crazy to think that my first year is already over. Done. Gone. So many amazing things have happened and I’ve never been happier with where I am than now.

I’ve learned a lot of lessons that I will never forget from this year, lessons that will carry over into the rest of my college career and beyond. I wish to share some of them.

I learned that …  adjusting to new places and a new routine is more difficult than I thought. I’ve always considered myself an independent person and I remember counting the days down to college, mostly because I was excited to be living on my own. When I moved in, I was scared as hell, but I had to remind myself that I was not alone. There were plenty of other freshmen who were just as frightened as I was.

My first semester was a rocky start. I experienced a lot of stress due to several factors, which took a toll on my immune system. Being sick all the time had affected my anxiety and depression, which was not fun. I missed a lot of class and struggled with my assignments. In the end, I finished that semester with a 3.6 GPA and confidence that I could conquer anything.

This past semester was much better than my first. I feel more comfortable with classes and college life (and I didn’t get sick at all)! But, I’m still continuing to adapt every day. In the past, I would have never guessed it would take me so long to adjust. But now, I know it takes time for things to become normal.

I learned that … you will never end up with the same group of friends that you started with. The first week of school, I befriended some girls from my dorm and we would hang out almost everyday. We had some really great times together and I almost thought we would be best friends forever. But somewhere around November, my friends suddenly didn’t want to hang out with me anymore. Then they stopped talking to me completely. I wondered if I had done something to upset them or hurt them.

It wasn’t until I was told that these things are normal in college and it happens to everyone at some point. The close group of people that you first met when you came to college dissipates very quickly. But you meet other people from your major, your extra-curricular activities and from other functions who become your life-long friends. Right now, I have some of the best friends in the world and I can’t thank them enough for being caring and supportive. My only hope is that we never grow apart.

I learned that … it’s okay to fail sometimes. Not saying that it’s okay to fail a class or anything like that. What I mean is you should never feel like you have to get a perfect score on every assignment, exam or research paper. Yes, I do set high standards for myself as a student but that is only because I know what I am capable of handling. No, I did not always do well on every assignment. I’ve failed an assignment here and there, but never because I didn’t try. This year threw many curve balls and I had to do my best to work around them.  If you spend all night cramming for an exam and you fail, don’t beat yourself up, because it does not define you as a student, a thinker.

I learned that … communication is important. You know that verse from the Bible, Matthew 7:7, which says “Ask, and it will be given to you… ?” This is especially important in college. It saved my butt when I accidentally missed one of my final exams in the first semester (I told you that first semester was rough)!

Being communicative with your professors, either from your major or general education classes, benefits you in the long run. I can’t tell you how many times I have asked my professors for something and I have received exactly what I wanted. When you don’t communicate, you don’t get the things you want/need. You may also be passing up on awesome opportunities in the future.

Also, learn to communicate with your roommate. I wish that I had done more of this. If you don’t like mess, tell your future roommate that you prefer they clean. If you like sleep, talk about what times you normally go to bed and agree on times not to come in the room. Work with each other and talk things over.

I learned that … I need to enjoy what little time I have left. If college is going to fly by as fast as my first year did, I have to live everyday as if it were my last day of college. Once it’s over, it’s over.  You should do it too. Spend time with people who make you happy. Go to a few parties. Go on late-night fast food runs to your favorite restaurant. Coffee dates. Picnics in the park. Road trips. Spontaneous nights filled with laughter. Enjoy all these things.

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