Words of wisdom for college freshmen

Courtney Allen is a recent summa cum laude graduate from University of Florida with a degree in Telecommunications News and a minor in Spanish. She has extended experience writing for radio, television and online. She is currently a freelance writer, pursuing a career in entertainment media.

I spent four unforgettable years at my alma mater, and it took me exactly that long to find out what college is about. Despite popular belief, college isn’t actually about academics at all. Well, at least it wasn’t for me. Maybe you could argue otherwise since we students spend eight physically and emotionally draining semesters (sometimes more) working our tails off to get a certified piece of paper that translates to “Congratulations, you’re qualified enough in your craft to advance to the real world.” And boy is that an exhilarating yet terrifying moment when it finally stares you dead in the face.
Before I explain what I came to find out about the best four years of our lives, I don’t want you to get the wrong idea. I must let you know that college did a lot for me academically, both as a student and a professional. It called me to be a disciplined worker and transformed me into an engaged listener. It made me a compassionate storyteller who can report on all media platforms, and molded me into the emotional, detailed writer I am today. Without college, I am almost certain I would not be the journalist I am at 23 years old.
But my whole point is when I look back at my eight semesters at the University of Florida, I vaguely remember or even find important the things we all assume that college is supposed to do for us. Looking back, I can’t recall the facts of every law of mass communication case I spent studying until the sun rose, how to perfectly craft an answer for my very first job interview or the historical figures I needed to mention to receive an A on my history midterm paper. These are the things I now consider fleeting, along with the feelings that came with them: exhaustion, anxiety, excitement. They are things that seemed like they mattered so much then, that now mean nothing but a microscopic contribution to the GPA of my college career. What I do remember is the exact way my life transitioned from the time my parents pulled out of my dorm in August 2010 to my packed apartment in May 2014. Like the exact moment I realized my “best friend” wasn’t much of one at all after I returned from a summer in Europe, the rejection I faced one morning in 2012 when I was denied membership to one of the most prestigious organizations at my university, and my crippling and life-changing battle with a skin disease during my junior fall semester.
College taught me the most unobvious thing. College taught me life, and it was effortless. College taught me to know Courtney, humans, relationships, failure, love, distance, pressure, insecurity, and acceptance. College taught me to put on a brave face when I covered horrifying breaking news while showing me that people hurt for reasons that they don’t even understand. College helped me to build an impressive résumé while forever reminding me that the missing accomplishments were only inevitable rejections in my path to success. College taught me how much I cherished loyalty when it seemed like no one at my university could give it to me. College taught me how unattainable perfection was after spending four years trying to desperately grasp it. College taught me sacrificing everything for someone can still mean nothing.
College will teach you life. All you have to do is listen.

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