By Jamie Sughroue, Opinion Editor
I’ve been a senior for more semesters than I’d like to divulge in print. But with my extended college career comes a wealth of experience and advice to share. Take note, apply these carefully chosen anecdotes and my wise, if occasionally facetious, words of advice to however many semesters you have left here at UNO.
1. Get out there.
As a college student, you have a chance to “find” and “re-invent” yourself, one that you won’t likely encounter again. You have a free pass of sorts, to discover new and exciting things about yourself, to learn and explore. If something’s uncomfortable and unfamiliar to you, that’s all the more reason to find out more about it. Why does it make you feel that way? How can you change that? What can you lose by finding out more?
2. Take classes that interest you.
You may be tempted to stick with subjects and classes you know you’ll excel at. That’s okay, to an extent. We all know there’s a GPA to consider, and the looming shadow of the possibility of grad school darkens every semester’s end. But stick your nose into a class that you’re interested in here and there.
Have you always wanted to learn about Criminal Justice, but you’re a Women’s Studies minor? Take Women, Crime and Justice and maybe you and your advisor can make it work within your degree plan. I know classes are expensive, and you don’t necessarily have the extra money to take classes without purpose.
3. Get involved.
I failed when I started college. Miserably. I was on a plethora of committees, activities, sports teams and the like in high school, and then chose not to do anything my first year at college. I worked a part-time job, but wasn’t associated with anything involving school. I missed the structure, camaraderie and discipline I had unconsciously depended upon during high school, and my schoolwork suffered.
I was far away, homesick and had no real ties to my new purpose in life, getting an education at the university of my choice. I should’ve joined an intramural team, the newspaper, anything to help me feel like I belonged. That sense of community is underrated and undervalued, especially to a newly independent 18-year-old.
4.Live on campus.
Unless you’re from the town where you’re attending college, I highly recommend you live on campus. If you want to get away from your parents and siblings, it’s nice to have space that’s yours, even if it’s shared with a roommate.
And, honestly, most dorm rooms are nicer than my first apartment. You can always nap in the library or the student center if your roommate has an obnoxious partner or locks you out at inopportune times.
But you can never get back that first year of school, how it feels, what accompanies it. Just think of the great stories you’ll have to tell your kids later in life when your suite mates are currently annoying the bejeesus out of you with their Jersey Shore marathon in the common room. And you’re just a walk or bike ride away from your classes, translating to at least a half an hour more sleep everyday. You’ll need it.
5. Don’t ever underestimate your proximity to a free washing machine.
I think this speaks for itself.
6. Take advantage of everything and everyone.
I’m not saying be rude or greedy. But if grandma wants to take you to Target and buy you some nice new slacks and a blouse (her words, not mine), you go ahead and say yes. This is a finite period of time in your life where people can live vicariously through you, projecting their experience as a poor college student on you, and nostalgically offer to give and buy you things because they remember what it was like “back in the day.” Nod your head conspiratorially and humbly accept any and all gifts. Trust me.
7. Don’t take everything too seriously.
Despite everything I’ve already said, remember to have fun and that this is just a phase of your life. You’re going to go on to great things, but being an adult is rough. Health insurance is expensive, summer vacations are relatively non-existent (depending upon your chosen career), and rent is due on the first of every month. Otherwise, you get evicted.
Have a great time in college, go out, make new friends, do things you never thought you’d do. Be responsible, first and foremost. I’m not suggesting that you do illegal drugs or get a tattoo.
Keep things in perspective. Someone out there isn’t in college, doesn’t have the luxury of an extra long twin bed crammed into a tiny room shared with a smelly stranger.
Be grateful and good luck!