College student advice

Kim Murphy is a 2014 graduate of James Madison University in Harrisonburg, Virginia. With a public relations/marketing background and strong interest in international affairs, she moved to London in September 2014 where she is obtaining a Master’s Business degree from Kingston University and traveling Europe solo on the weekends.

One of the most common things I hear from fellow alumni and “real-world” dwellers (aside from “TAKE ME BACK TO COLLEGE” in the midst of any unfavorable real-life situation), is “I wish I appreciated college more.” The sheer essence of the lifestyle itself: living out of your parents’ house for the first time with an endless supply of fun, beer and a relatively massive community of people your age and in the same boat as you…you basically live in a fantasy world that you’ll be dying to return to for the rest of your life. So take time to reflect on how great your life is. Keep a journal, take excessive amounts of pictures and just enjoy it.
Never underestimate the power of a bucket list
Say yes to everything, and experience all your school has to offer. For those studying away from home…even if your school resides in Bumbletown, Nowhere, realize that you will likely never live there again—and explore the area. Go for on hikes, road-trips to nearby sites, and all else spontaneous. Also, for some reason saying you want to do something before you graduate isn’t nearly as effective as writing it down. Make a physical list of things you would like to do before graduation, and cross them off. So streak the quad, swim in the potentially disease-ridden fountain, and sign your name in the tunnel. Anything that you’ve wanted to do over the past three years, it’s not too late!
Enjoy your friends
Recognize the fact that many of your new friends may not be from your hometown, and your roommates won’t always be your roommates. Put down your phone and live in the moment, absorbing every conversation and experience you have. Appreciate every second you spend with these people—because these bonds are some the strongest you will ever make.
See the bigger picture
Graduating Cum Laude, I was certainly just as grade-obsessed as the next type-A; but as graduation approached and the reality of never being a college student again really set in, it was time for a change. This is certainly not to say that grades are unimportant, and I’m definitely not saying to purposely fail anything or completely neglect any assignment. But when you are driving yourself crazy trying to make a 15 page research paper perfect, checking all of your references twice and making a pristine cover page with color coordination to your school colors…relax. In the grand scheme of things, you have spent the past 3.5 years accumulating what will account for pretty much the entirety of your final average. And quite frankly, after you graduate, you are 100% more likely to remember the night you gave up on perfectionism to have a fun night out with your friends than you are to remember the 98% you got from staying in.
Work, deadlines, stress and all else related are inescapable and simply manifests of responsibility…which will only accumulate as your life progresses. Quite simply, the work never ends, but college does. The most integral element in really getting the “full college experience” is having this mindset, from day one.


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