Your studies at Penn State are obviously important, but often the most effective lessons you’ll learn in college will not necessarily be learned in the classroom.
Over the past four years I have learned that you have to take risks, even if this means letting your heart get broken. And when you’re sad you can’t be ashamed to cry or tell people that they’ve angered you. But, it’s just as important to learn how to forgive too because no one’s perfect, even though we’re all trying to be. I have learned that you need to embrace your flaws and learn to love others’ imperfections. It’s also extremely important to remember that true and selfless friends are rare, so when you find them you should keep them close.
While I have developed as a writer since I’ve been at Penn State, I have also developed as person through each lesson I have learned outside of the classroom and I will carry these lessons into my life after graduation.
This week, HC PSU’s other graduating seniors also shared their most important college lessons:
Take advantage of everything you can. Penn State has so many musical artists, comedians, interesting speakers and more that come to visit and tickets are usually super discounted for students, if not free. Follow @psu_spa on Twitter to stay updated on the latest celebs making their way to State College. Other schools do not get all these perks, so go.
Worry in order. This is the best piece of advice one of my professors has given me. This took me a while to learn and now that I look back and I can actually act on it, it seems so obvious. You get so much more stressed if you are trying to do everything all at once. Think about one assignment, get it done, and then move to the next. Making lists and crossing things off helps immensely too. Some things are more important than others, so do those first and think about the rest when it is time.
As I entered my final year in college this fall I constantly found myself contemplating how much I’ve truly learned during my time here. When I looked back at the research papers and projects I completed freshman year, I found that I didn’t recognize many of them. When did I learn about cell respiration and oxidative phosphorylation? And, what in the world is homolactic fermentation?
When you enter college fresh out of high school, your life takes a 180 degree turn overnight. My freshman year I was struggling with how to balance a social life, good grades and adequate sleep, so I decided sleep was the one thing I could do without. Sleep was for the weak. I mastered the skill of the all-nighter and found ways to trick my body into thinking it wasn’t tired. Laughing, smiling, eating constantly and looking nice were among my most effective tactics. I had learned to not only stay awake throughout the night, but also managed to get through the entire next day feeling and looking great. This was a versatile skill, applicable to any profession. I was proud of what I had mastered and as I entered my senior year, I concluded that this was what college had taught me.
However, considering I am about to become a college graduate, I am mature enough to understand that all-nighters are not something to brag about. Staying awake all night may work sometimes, but in the end, sleep is a necessary human function we can’t do without. Luckily, today, one week away from the culmination of my college career I had a revelation. I realized that despite my last semester in college being plagued with double the amount of work of any other semester, I have been able to keep my grades up without pulling any all-nighters. I have finally conquered the essential skill that I fought against for approximately four years: time management.
College has taught me the value of time and that using it effectively goes a long way. I’ve learned that when given the option to pick between a social life, good grades, or sleep, it is possible to have all three. I’ve learned to prioritize and organize all my tasks to make them more manageable. Eliminating the time spent complaining about how much work you have surprisingly gives you a lot more time to actually do the work. Taking on every challenge with a positive attitude is essential.
I am about to commit Penn State blasphemy.
College was not the best four years of my life.
Don’t get me wrong, I cherish my experience as a Penn State student and wish it didn’t have to end, but the advice from a professor my second day on campus assures me that I’ll love the next chapter in my life as well.
As an incoming freshman planning to study environmental resource management, I was sitting in an Agricultural Science auditorium waiting for orientation to start. Dr. Marcos Fernandez—the former dean of the college—was standing at the front of the room. He told us bright-eyed freshman that college would not be the best the four years of our lives.
I was shocked. Everyone to this point kept telling me that my college years would be an incredible experience unrivaled by any other time.
Dr. Fernandez continued to say that he felt bad for people who held their time in college as this nostalgic era of fun never to had again. He said school would live up to our expectations (and trust me it has), but we shouldn’t see life as peaking at 22 years old. His goal for his students was to make every year better than the last. And that included the year after graduation.
My career in the sciences was short lived, but Dr. Fernandez’s message sticks with me. Strive to live for everyday like it’s the weekend. Love Monday as much as Friday, and know that you have the ability to make the rest of your life as awesome as your time at Penn State.
College was not the best four years of my life, it was the start of the best life I can live.