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Opinion

College is full of potential life lessons

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April 29, 2015

I think when you make it to your last semester of college, you never truly think about it until the last few weeks of class, when you are figuring out ways to straighten out your cap and gown, what in your apartment is ready to be packed up and hauled away, and when you can count your major assignments left in college on one hand.

That’s how it is for me, anyway. My last semester was just another semester—a semester of routine, homework, concerts, activities and seeing friends. But now that everything is beginning to end it’s not just a semester anymore. It is the real world, something I realize I’m not that prepared for.

But in a way, that is what the events of college are for: something you are not prepared for but have to do anyway. In my four years, I’ve learned a lot of lessons, not just academically, but about life, and that is what I hope to pass along to underclassmen and incoming freshmen, who—quite honestly—have a lot to learn.

When I was a freshman, I had some preconceived notion that the upperclassmen were scary and “too cool” to hang out with freshmen. After all, we were fresh out of high school, we weren’t of legal age yet, and we were still required to live in a cramped little dorm room.

So, of course, we had to stick to other freshmen and they had to stick to other upperclassmen, right? Wrong. I always regret not getting to know the upperclassmen during my freshman year; and now that most of them are gone, I’ve missed my opportunity. But now that I’m a senior, I have made some great new friends—friends who are freshmen.

Just because they are three years younger than me and are only going to school with me for a year, that doesn’t make me “too cool” for them. Everywhere you go there are going to be people around. Talk to them, get to know them. Who cares how old they are? We’re all going to school together anyway.

I’m not typically one to brag; but in my four years at UWRF, I have rarely missed class. That doesn’t mean I’m an overachiever or arrogant, I can just tell you, even if you already know, that there is no value in skipping class. But I’ll admit it, I’ve done it before. Sometimes I have been sick, many times I have been on a band outing, and a few times I had no excuse at all. But, excuse or not, there is always that feeling of guilt when I am not in class and begin to fall behind.

And yes, professors may give you one or two “skip” days during the semester, but my advice is don’t take them unless you absolutely need them. Just because you didn’t go to class, doesn’t mean you are getting out of doing any work. It just means it all piles up at once, causing more stress and possibly leaving you with the dirty work that your classmates who were in class did not want to claim. Go to class, even if you don’t like it. It’ll end before you know it.

If you haven’t had one yet, you will. Yes, at some point in your college career, you are going to have a professor who is downright wacky. That, or their beliefs are so far opposite from yours that you spend your class looking at the clock. I’ve experienced both of these things, sometimes simultaneously. Class discussions can make it seem that the whole class agrees with said professor except you.

But you know what? That’s okay! Don’t let anyone force you to conform to their beliefs, be it religious, political, anything. That doesn’t mean you need to shout from the rooftops about your views on abortion, but the thing to learn about getting through college is that whatever you believe and wherever you stand is perfectly OK. And if someone is telling you otherwise, then they’re not really worth your time anyway.

Being a senior in high school about to enter college or just having barely scratched the surface of college is scary. You’ve only experienced a handful of professors, just have your one group of friends and only had to take on one single routine. You have no idea what turn your experiences, beliefs or interactions are going to take next.

Trust me, I’ve been there too. I felt quite small as a freshman looking at all the years left I still had to experience. But also trust me when I say that fear never ends. Soon enough, you will be like me, at the end of road, looking at what’s next, no clue where your future is going. The fear is always there, but it always works itself out, as long as you approach it wisely.

Cristin Dempsey is an English major and music minor from Eagan, Minn. She enjoys writing, playing the flute and swimming. After college she would like to pursue a career as an editor.