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What I Wish I Knew Then: College Advice From a Graduating Senior

This article is written by a student writer from the Her Campus at Emmanuel chapter.

When it comes to college, it is a whole new curve in your life to navigate, with being in a new place and trying to figure out who you want to be for the next four years. From choosing a major, taking part in extracurriculars and finding friends, it can be overwhelming. When I was a freshman I thought that I was so confident and grown up, but looking back I was wrong; I had encapsulated those feelings, but forgot how young I was at 19 now that I am soon turning 22. We are constantly changing as people; certain points in my life feel like a lifetime ago because I am no longer those past versions of myself. Even now in my senior year, I’m constantly adapting to different situations, and learning how to get by. When I first started here at Emmanuel College three years ago it was a difficult transition; it took me a long time to get to where I am today. There is so much I wish I knew back then that would have been so helpful for me, so here is my advice that can hopefully guide you!

Not Everyone Has It Together

Now this concept took me a while to realize; social media perceptions of how people display themselves in public is not always the truth. I remember  in the beginning of the semester always seeing people together in friend groups on campus and posting photos on Instagram where they all looked so happy. It would make me sad because it was tough making friends at Emmanual because of how small the school is, so I felt major FOMO. I had some friends at the time, but it did not feel like the right group for me; to be honest, I was not really happy. Seeing all of these other people who I did not know having such a great time and an easy transition here was hard because I longed for that too. Soon that year, and as I went through college, I talked to many people about how difficult everything was freshman year. Even people who I assumed had it all were going through their own concealed struggles. Some were dealing with mean friend groups, also really did not have any friends, or were dealing with tough roommates. It was surprising because I would have never thought that about some of them because of who they were, the people they hung out with, and how they portrayed themselves. It was reassuring and comforting to learn; I was glad to know it was not just me. So at the end of the day, no matter how others seem to be doing, remember you are not the only one feeling that way. It is normal to not have it together in the beginning or even throughout  your four years; eventually you will find your path, friends and everything else. 

Get Involved

I wish I had done this sooner than I chose to– being involved on campus has been so fulfilling and exciting during my time here. I am currently on the e-board for both Her Campus and EC Dance Marathon. On top of that I am interning for an immigration attorney. where I am working on their marketing. Freshman year I had a lot going on in my personal life with my toxic living situation and trying to balance classes, so I was too stressed to get involved. Participating in clubs whether you are on the board or are a general member is great; you are able to meet new people, find new interests and be active. There are many events to attend on top of general meetings which give even more opportunities to get to know people. So many of the students that I know now and are friends with are because we are part of  similar organizations, and I have then gotten to know their friends, who I have gotten close with. With connections it is exciting being involved on campus and being able to learn from the clubs as well. If you can, be as involved as possible; you are able to meet so many peers, keep yourself busy and take a break from classes. I cannot stress it enough, so do it while you can before time runs out! 

Do Activities on Your Own

I used to be so anxious about going places and doing stuff on my own freshman year, but there is a real liberating feeling once you do so. It felt wrong and uncomfortable to be by myself during meals, out at cafes or even going places off campus because I was so used to being with people. It was never hard for me before college to make friends and find close connections, so being on my own for a bit was challenging. I was lonely in the beginning and felt out of place seeing everyone in some sort of group at the dining hall or around campus. Having to go places or do activities alone was not a choice, but I learned how to embrace independence. I was able to gain extended confidence and learn so much more about who I was. It can be intimidating when you start to do this, but you get used to it. I find that it’s important to know how to be your own person without the influences of others and being able to find comfort with it. People tend to associate being on your own as negative at times, but that is just not true. There is beauty in being able to go somewhere because you can and make decisions; I love going on trips to Target, coffee shops to do work and even just walks in general. It is a great way to find yourself and be grounded, and it is a form of self-care, so don’t be scared about times like these; I hope you are able to take what I have from it, I wouldn’t change any of it and love who I have become from learning about myself. 

Reach Out to People

Now this can be stressful. When I was trying to meet people and make friends my mom used to always say, “Just ask or message them about plans, the worst they could say is no.” Someone saying no can still be upsetting and nerve racking. That is completely understandable and I still feel like that to this day at times. Even though it can be a lot to make a confrontation and hope to make plans, the worst thing someone can really say is no or that they’re not free that day. It is still a start, and for all you know that person may say yes, either way it is better than nothing. If you never reach out you will never know what someone else is thinking or feeling, not trying at all will get you nowhere. Sometimes it is the smallest decisions that are the ones that completely change our lives. One of my best friends who I met last year at an event would not even be in my life right now if I had not reached out after and continued to make plans more. This goes for many other people who are in my life, so putting yourself out there is key. As intimidating as it can be to be the one to reach out first, it is worth it because you learn who is right for you and could meet some amazing people. 

Go Out of Your Comfort Zone

If you are feeling uncomfortable, then you are doing everything right. I know that does not make sense, but when you enter those times of uncertainty and discomfort you are only growing as a person. Constantly reaching towards what you know isn’t always bad, but you are limiting your potential. For example, look at the High School Musical moviesit is a prime example of going out of your comfort zone. If the characters had stuck to what was socially acceptable and the stereotypes they fit into, none of them would have discovered what they loved. They would have missed out on the friends they made along the way as well as character development. It’s the same for everyday people; if we do not reach for that dream job, hobby or organization to be involved in so much could be missed. I have always been interested in acting classes here at Emmanuel, so I decided to take one now during my last semester and I have been enjoying it. It is something I have never done before and was very nerve racking during the first week. I felt awkward, strange and doubted myself a little, but have stuck with it and have learned so much. I do not know what it will lead me to, but it is a start– so when you can, leave what brings comfort and familiarity, because there is so much waiting to be discovered!

Hi my name is Karly and I am in my Senior Year at Emmanuel College. I am studying Communications with a Minor in Marketing and Writing. I plan to someday work in marketing and live in Boston. In my free time I love to walk around the city, read, get coffee, see my friends and family. For a fun fact, I have my Cosmetology License!