How I've Grown During My First Year

It’s almost your second round of finals, and while you’ve been through this before, maybe that 200-level class that you thought you could totally handle is making you miserable. Or maybe a club you’re in is having a big event on the same day you have a paper due. There’s so much to do, but summer seems so close. While your stress spikes up, your motivation is beginning to take a nose-dive. Need some encouragement? It’s right under your nose. You’ve been in college for almost a year now. Think about all you’ve done, and now think about who you were before entering college: could you have done all these things a year ago?

Would you have had the courage to branch out and meet so many new people?

Coming to college for some people meant coming to a school full of strangers, but even people who had already had a few friends at DePauw had to learn to branch out. Whether during orientation, in classes or in your clubs, you got the courage to introduce yourself, or give someone a compliment. Sometimes it was awkward, but sometimes you found that you had made a new friend. It takes a lot of bravery to make that risk, and for some people, it took time to build up that courage. But eventually you said the first “hello”.

Would you have been able to succeed in your challenging classes?

Classes can be brutal—even the ones that we really enjoy. Coming into college maybe you thought that you would have easy, introductory classes and tons of free time. You were then swiftly proven wrong and had to adapt to the discussion-based classes and loads of reading assignments. You had to learn to focus and understand, to take good notes and to cram when necessary. You had to accept the library and other campus study spaces as your second home, especially during finals.

Would you have been able to juggle those classes with your extracurriculars?

Going to the activities fair at the beginning of the year filled you with excitement: there were so many clubs and chances to meet people. You signed up for everything, but maybe had to drop some of it when you realized your academic responsibilities. Yet you held on to the clubs and activities that you were really passionate about and continue to be involved with them now. They serve as reprieves from your homework, a chance to have fun or maybe to make a difference on campus. But there’s homework to be done too and that means scheduling and planning. While things can still get overwhelming, you’re learning to keep it all balanced.

You’ve met so many new people and learned so many new things. Maybe you’ve already traveled abroad, or maybe you’ve learned about a new culture in one of your classes. Bottom line is, you have grown. You have become more inclusive or more understanding or more outgoing. You have done so much. So when you look at your essays that need to be done and finals that need to be studied for, know that you can do that too.