Looking Forward: Advice from a Recent Grad

It’s that time of year again: graduation. For me, even though I’m graduating with my master’s this weekend, I’m feeling a little nostalgic about my own undergraduate graduation ceremony, just one year ago. These past few weeks my newsfeed has been bogged down with statuses boasting of ”last” events and completed goals, blast-from-the-past photos, sad goodbyes, and more angry F you’s to certain classes and professors.

Like most recent graduates, it’s hard for me to believe that it’s already been a year since I crossed the stage. Every couple days, I become re-overwhelmed with the thought, sending texts to friends exclaiming “can you believe it’s been a year since _______” every time a new and awesome memory from senior year flows into my brain.

Instead of crossing those last few things off of my college bucket list as I did last year, living up every last moment of college, now I reflect on what an insanely awesome four years college was, watch this, read this, and think up advice for the current high school senior students I teach, students about to embark on the journey of their lives.

I put together a list for my seniors of 30 or so tips and tricks to surviving college, and for you, SKC, readers I’m posting some of my favorites. Maybe you’re a senior on your way into the real world (and if so, congrats! …and here ya go), or maybe you’re an underclassmen with many years ahead. Either way, take my advice, put your spin on it, and make the most of these college years. They go by in a flash!

**Tips and Tricks**

1. In college it’s always 5 o’clock somewhere, but if you take advantage of every single 5 o’clock, believe me, you’ll be sorry.

2. Introduce yourself to everyone, regardless of if you think you will be friends or not. Having a good image comes in handy when you least expect it, and I guarantee that your first impressions of people are not always right.

3. Don’t be afraid to make a switch. Just because you make a certain decision when you’re 18 years old–about a college, a relationship, a major, etc.—doesn’t mean you’re stuck with it for life. Trust your instincts. That being said, do NOT be the person that decides two weeks into college that you hate it there and act miserable for the next five months. College is an adjustment, and just like with everything, change takes time.

4. Think now about what high school friends you absolutely want to stay in touch with, and work at it. It gets hard, but even a text here and there can keep those friendships alive.

5. Clean up your social media act. Every person you meet in college is going to base their opinion of you on your profiles, at least at first. Check out said profile as if you were an outsider, and see if you really want to be giving off the impression that you’re giving off.

6. Be generous. With your words. With food gifts. With your time. A little goes a long way.

7. Take risks. You don’t have to be the same person you were in high school. Take advantage of new freedoms and try new things, even things you never thought you’d be into.

8. It’s okay to act as if every hangover is the worst one you’ve ever had. This is expected.

9. Make real opposite sex friends. Not friends you secretly wish you were dating, real friends.

10. Go to class. Skipping one class turns into two which turns into five which turns into ten. It’s a slippery slope. On top of that, make sure professors know your name. Eventually you’re going to need people to write you recommendation letters, and choosing your high school coach that you haven’t talked to in three years is frowned upon.

11. Make friends with coffee. All-nighters are a real thing (see here and here).

12. Everyone says that scholarships are “free money,” but the truth is, you worked hard for them, and you have to work hard to keep them. When are scholarships most often revoked? After freshman year. Learn what you have to do to keep your scholarship and do everything in your capacity to keep it.

13. Return your parents’ calls. You don’t want the only time you talk to them to be when you need money or other assistance.

14. GET INVOLVED. Take pride in something that you do. You will not enjoy college unless you are involved in something, I promise.

15. Many people you know probably have this Tom Petty quote as a status or a wall hanging: “You have four years to be irresponsible here. Relax. Work is for people with jobs. You’ll never remember class time, but you’ll remember time you wasted hanging out with your friends. So, stay out late. Go out on a Tuesday with friends when you have a paper due Wednesday. Spend money you don’t have. Drink ‘til sunrise. The work never ends, but college does.” Look, everything in moderation, but let’s just say that there is certainly truth to this quote. ENJOY college.

Shannon Kelley is finishing up her master’s student teaching in St. Louis, Missouri. She’s been tearing up easily and often lately reflecting on how great her college experience was.

Originally posted on Wednesday, May 9th, 2012

One Response to “Looking Forward: Advice from a Recent Grad”

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