Tuesday, August 28, 2012

My Unsolicited Advice to Incoming College Freshmen

You're all hopeful graduates of the class of 2016, full of idealistic dreams for your future. Some of you might be transplanting yourselves into a new city, state, and/or culture; others are attending the junior college down the street full of familiar faces from high school.

Regardless of your situation, you are in a very unique position to change the course of your lives, should you take advantage of it.

Use this time wisely. Life rarely hands out do-overs. Re-invent yourselves. Give yourselves a chance to succeed by cultivating a passion for learning and an unending curiosity. Take your general education classes without prejudice, allowing yourselves to enjoy subjects you wouldn't have liked in high school when they are taught by great teachers in an enthralling way. Allow yourselves the chance to change your mind, your major, or your attitude.

Remember that an open mind is a teachable one. Be malleable and flexible. Adapt. Seek out people different from you--you will learn a lot. Swallow your fears and put yourselves out there. My biggest regret from college: I signed up for a listserv (weekly email) from an organization that piqued my interest during orientation. I stayed on that listserv for TWO YEARS before I finally worked up the courage to attend a meeting. When I did, I found my home at the University of Arizona. I made friends with some of the most unlikely characters, discovered a passion for youth services, and found a niche that provided soft ground for me to set down roots. So carve out your bit of space--it will make all the difference.

Question everything you were ever taught and always ask "why?" Make decisions your parents wouldn't approve of and don't hesitate in discussing them together openly and honestly. Remember that your parents only want what is best for you and listen when they give you advice. Think about their advice and evaluate it critically. Seek advice from other family members, school counselors, therapists, professors and friends. Keep in mind that if you look hard enough, you can always find someone to tell you what you want to hear and remember that's not what you're looking for.

More than anything, try to hold onto your naivete, your hopes and dreams, and your sanity for as long as possible. Purge negativity from your daily life and cultivate a life of good habits. You're laying the foundation for who you will be for the rest of your life, so make sure it's a good one. Try buying into the idea that you can accomplish anything; you'll be surprised at what is possible with the right mindset.


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