The #1 Rule about College You Find Out Too Late

Hannah Spurrier is a recent journalism and communications graduate from James Madison University. A self-proclaimed “Professional Student,” she’s now getting her master’s in PR and Corporate Communications at Georgetown University. Some of her favorite things include dogs, pizza, football, and, of course, writing. 

 

Don’t blink.

As you are amidst your college search and touring campuses, chances are you’re not really thinking about college being over because it hasn’t actually started yet.

But take it from me—a postgrad still finding her way in the world—it goes by faster than you realize.

Freshman year is the time when you establish your place on campus, find your friends, join clubs you love, and decide which direction you want to go in life. Once that first year is over, you’re probably more excited than sad to become a sophomore because you won’t be considered the “babies” on campus, you get to start taking classes within your major and you’ll be experts on where to go, who to hang out with and hey—you still have two more years to go of the college life. And it can only go up from here, right?

The same with junior year. You’re more aware that the end of the road is closer, but you’re upperclassmen now and you get to become mentors to underclassmen, the folks who are in the position you were just two years ago. You and your friends are counting down the days until senior year when you rule the campus and are old enough to experience things you couldn’t do when you were younger.

But then senior year comes around. The final round. You’ve become close with your major’s professors, you’ve gained leadership experience in clubs and organizations, you’ve found true best friends. You have your college routine down to a science. And you are trying so hard to ignore the looming graduation date in a matter of months so you take hundreds of pictures, attend multiple gatherings with groups of friends you’ve known since freshman year, and try to hold on to the last bit of college as long as you can.

This is probably not news to anyone—we all become seniors, graduate and take the next steps in life. But my advice? Don’t just go through the motions of college to achieve the end goal of the diploma in your hand.

Don’t just blink.

Enjoy the general education classes your school requires (even though they can be a bit boring). You may discover you actually enjoy African History or Science of Light and Sound and that can alter your entire college direction, all because you took at class you were hesitant (and most likely not happy) about taking.

Join clubs and meet different types of people than you’re used to—you learn more about yourself by being with people who make you think differently. There are sports teams, Greek life, and honor societies. Do something that will propel you forward. Plus, you’ll have a huge network of people to go to when you’re looking for help, friends, and even a job.

Hang out with your professors outside of class, or at the very least, go to them during office hours for help or just to talk. Inside the classroom they may appear intimidating, but most professors are truly interesting people and offer great life advice if you give them a chance. If they see you making the effort to talk to them outside of class, that also may help your grade. Plus, they will write helpful recommendation letters for your post-graduate endeavors.

Most importantly? Don’t take college—or a year, or a day—for granted. Once it’s over, nothing will ever compare to the experience, fun, memories, and friendships you make there. Four years may seem like a long time and you may think your graduation day will never come. But it does. So take up every opportunity you get before your time is up.

Because you go from a freshman to a graduating senior in just a blink of an eye.

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