If I Could Go Back to High School

Hello! My name is Valerie and I am a junior at the University of Tampa in sunny Florida. I’m originally a Jersey girl, but Florida has become like my second home. I’m pursuing a Bachelor of Arts with a major in Public Relations, and I expect to graduate in May of 2016. I’m an active member of several campus organizations, and I work at the enrollment office of UT’s admissions department. In my spare time, I love to run, craft, and catch up with old friends. College is the most magical and influential thing that has ever happened to me. Always explore every opportunity that comes your way, and don’t blink, because the best four years of your life will be over faster than you can imagine!

If I Could Go Back to High School, Here’s What I Would Have Done Differently
In most cases, it won’t hit you that you’re a real college student until you’re standing in Target at the beginning of August picking out your extra-long twin sheets for your new dorm. Is my roommate prettier than me? What if I don’t get into a sorority? Heck, what even is a sorority really? How will I handle all the work for my classes?
These were all questions buzzing through my head as I stood in Target picking out my own extra-long twin sheets in August of 2012. At the time, I didn’t realize how narrow-minded and “high school” I really sounded posing these questions to my friends and parents. However these were some of my deepest concerns about my upcoming first semester of college at the University of Tampa, many miles from my average north-Jersey suburb of a home.
If I could go back in time and re-live my senior year of high school with a more future-driven approach, here’s what I would have done differently: Primarily, I would have taught myself to think about and prepare for a time beyond the current week, month, even season. In everything you do, and I mean everything, I’ve found that the more prepared you are, the better. Even food shopping is faster and easier when you have a list of exactly what you want. Next, I would have drastically minimized concern for the whereabouts and happenings of my friend group and other peers, and prioritized building a broader perspective of the world and my personal character. Although it’s the talk of the grade that Haley got a brand-new convertible for her 17th birthday, there are way bigger things in this world to wrap your mind around that will feed your soul and help you grow in (useful) knowledge. I would have spent less money on Halloween costumes, ordered a tall-sized latte instead of a grande or venti, minimized other superfluous impulse buys and instead deposited more into my savings account (believe me, having a little extra cash while you’re away at school comes in handy more often than you can ever anticipate).
And lastly (and probably most importantly) I would have taught myself to be extraordinarily grateful for the knowledge—inside and outside the classroom—that was gifted to me by my teachers, peers, and others. If there is one thing that has moved me so deeply in college, it is the pure and true gift of education and knowledge. Marvel at how big the world is, how capable your brain is of doing incredible things, and how much potential there is for personal, community, and worldly growth—that YOU get to be a part of! Teach yourself to be constantly hungry for knowledge of any and every discipline. Instead of watching Finding Nemo for the hundredth time, find a documentary on Netflix or the National Geographic channel that interests you or you may have never considered before. Go out of your way to have conversations with as many different types of people as you can. Often times, people will be more impressed with your hunger and yearning for knowledge than all the knowledge you already have.
Though high school and all its affiliates feel like the entire world at the moment, do not forget that the world is much, much bigger than that. The material you learn in your high school classes will likely not carry over to your adulthood, but just about everything else you experience very well may. And above all else, do not treat college like high school, or it may take you much, much longer to become the adult you dream of being.

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