I never thought I would see the day that I wasn’t returning to school in the fall, but at last I made it!
I’m looking forward to enjoying pumpkin spice lattes and sweater weather (I know, I’m super basic) without the pressure of homework and exams. As a fresh college graduate, I’ve done a lot of reflecting on my college experience, and I want to share what I’ve come to realize now that my mind isn’t clouded by deadlines and overly-caffeinated stress.
For those starting college, continuing the journey, or just a curious college graduate wondering what others experience, I have a few lessons to share with you:
#1: I Wish I Took a Gap Year.
A photo of me wearing the hoodie my parents got me after I officially enrolled at DePaul in 2014 — heavy Instagram filter and all.
We’re taught that once you graduate from high school, college in the next step. We’re told “It’s so hard to go back to school when you take a break.” It’s expected that we attend four continuous years of college right off the bat, but I’m here to tell you that I don’t agree with this.
When I enrolled at DePaul, I chose secondary education as my major because I thought that was what I was supposed to do. My family, friends and high school teachers assumed that I would go to college to become a teacher, which made me think I was supposed to do that. When I was applying to colleges, I didn’t know you could pick “undecided” as a major, and I never took the time to figure out what I actually wanted to study. After a year of avoiding secondary education classes (because my gut knew I didn’t want to be a teacher), I finally switched to ‘undecided’.
I used my first two years of college to complete my ‘gen ed’ requirements, and along the way, I discovered my love for fashion, makeup and all things lifestyle. After being a journalism major for three months and disliking it, I declared my major in public relations and advertising and it stuck. Although I eventually found a major I loved, I only spent two years studying it. If I had taken time off to figure out what I truly wanted to study, I would have had the opportunity to spend more time with my major.
#2: I Wish I Joined an Organization Sooner.
The day I ran home to Alpha Omicron Pi – Fall 2016.
As a commuter, college life can get a little lonely. For two years, I drove to school, went to class, and drove back home. Wanting to find a sense of community on campus, I decided to join a sorority my junior year, and I am so happy I did. I met some of my best friends through my organization, and I am proud to be a part of something bigger than myself. I don’t regret joining my sorority as a junior; I only wish I did it earlier.
#3: I Wish I Paid Attention to My Creativity Side.
Photo via Instagram.
Don’t get me wrong – school, working and doing internships are really important parts of the college experience. However, I wish I spent more time doing the things I love. It took me until my senior year to pursue my creative dreams – blogging, social media and music – alongside my education and work life. I must say, doing so has been the best choice I have made thus far, and I plan to continue making time for the things I love.
#4: I Wish I Wasn’t So Hard On Myself.
Senior year spring break in Dallas.
Some would call my magic act of balancing overtime in classes, a job, multiple internships, and sorority simply “overachieving”. I called it “doing what I need to do.” Now I believe it was neither.
After nights without sleep, canker sore breakouts (stress will do that to you!), multiple mental breakdowns, gallons of coffee and struggling to keep up with everything I put on my plate, I must say it wasn’t worth it. I accomplished a lot in the past few years, and I’m proud of myself for that. But because of the schedule I created for myself, I spent more time counting down the days until it was over rather than enjoying my time as a college student. College is hard, yes, but it’s also supposed to be enjoyable. My advice is to avoid pushing yourself to an unhealthy extent and slow down. Balancing a million things isn’t worth dreading every moment, and two months later, I’m still recovering from the stress overload.