Yesterday I was talking to a friend and I said a sentence that started with “when I grow up.” And then it hit me- I am grown up, but that doesn’t mean I can’t keep starting sentences like that.
Next week my senior year starts, and it’s going to be a short one. I have three months of classes, three months of an internship and that’s it. It’s not uncommon to graduate early from Northwestern, but I find myself feeling kind of sad and a lot scared. The fact of the matter is, I don’t know what’s next and I’m not sure I’m ready to decide. Yet somehow, I find myself here writing advice for the Class of 2016… I’ll give it the best I’ve got. Here are the things I do know.
1. You only have four years- and they’ll go quickly.
The four years part shouldn’t come as a surprise to you. But gradating early was a surprise to me. And realizing that there are a lot of things to be done in the 6 months I had left was too. I came to Northwestern starry eyed and overwhelmed. Time passed and now I’m starting to realize that I should have been more spontaneous, and experienced more of the once-in-a-lifetime things that come with a college experience. Instead of going to bed, I should have watched the sunrise with my friends. I should have gone into Chicago more. I should have said no to babysitting to go to the party I was looking forward to. Which brings me to…
2. You can say ‘yes’ and you can say ‘no’ to whatever you want.
Being responsible is incredibly important, especially as you start to do more independently of parents, teachers, and other ‘adults.’ That being said, you shouldn’t be so preoccupied with your responsibilities that you forget to enjoy the little time you do have to be a kid still. Don’t feel obligated to do something that you aren’t actually required to do. You should do some extra resume builders, but missing every single home football game to sleep definitely going to deprive you of a necessary college experience. You can say ‘yes’ to the game just one week to watch the ‘Cats rock Team X and reschedule your nap for another day. You can only shake your keys in the student section (or go to an awesome Halloween party, or hear a really amazing speaker on campus, etc.) so many times in your undergraduate career. Don’t miss out if you don’t have to.
3. Take the time to get to know you.
A lot will change from year-to-year during your time at Northwestern. The changes won’t always make you happy, but they won’t always be as bad as they seem. All you can do is go with the flow. Most importantly, make sure you pay attention though to how you react to those changes and the person you become from them. You can’t control what happens to you, but you can control the way you handle what happens to you. This is not by any means a simple task. You have to take the time to understand yourself- the good and the bad. But in the end, you’ll walk away feeling more sure that no matter where you’ll end up, you will be alright. And you will, because after all you’re a strong collegiette™.
4. Make a list of what you want.
Let’s call it a bucket list. Even if you don’t know what you will want to do in a week, get your list started with a few things from HC Northwestern’s article! (http://www.hercampus.com/school/northwestern/nu-bucket-list) They don’t all have to be actions either. You can add questions about yourself you’d like to answer in the next four years. You can write a list of things about the world you want to learn in classes. Anything you’d like to accomplish should go on your Northwestern List. That way you can hold yourself to having the best four years of your life!
In the end, your college experience will be amazing. I can almost guarantee it. At the end of your time at Northwestern you will walk away knowing more information, both academic and personal, than you ever imagined. I know, despite all the pending questions about the next six months I have that I know more about myself than I did yesterday, and will know more about myself tomorrow than today. I’m walking confidently into whatever my next chapter is, and I truly encourage you to walk confidently into your time at Northwestern.