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

The title is self-explanatory, but I am a senior here at Illinois State University. I am studying Elementary Education and am currently almost halfway through my last semester doing student teaching.

A little back story on myself:

I am an only child but grew up with a lot of cousins close in age. I would have to say I was a “goody-two-shoes” and strived for excellence in everything I did. I have to admit, I am a perfectionist. I thrive with positive reinforcement. The one thing I have struggled with was how I wanted my life to play out. In high school, I never knew what I wanted to go to college for. I knew I wanted to go to college, but could not think of anything I would want to major in. I worried that I would not enjoy whatever major I chose and waste money.

Flash forward to 2018, I graduated high school in the top 10% of my class and won a decent amount of scholarships. At the time, I felt so accomplished, but as I grew older, all of those awards and chords I got in high school mean barely anything to me now. This is not because they didn’t mean anything. They showed my hard work and accomplishments, but when I look back on my high school career, I spent a lot of hours late at night stressed due to school. I blew off relationships because of how tired I was. This really stuck with me as I went to college.

I have put a lot on my plate which caused relationships with friends or significant others to diminish because of the time I put into school. Again, being a hard worker and wanting to do well in school is not a bad thing, but time management is so important at this stage in our life. Schoolwork, jobs, relationships/friendships, and your own mental/physical well-being can be hard things to balance all at once.

You do not have to have a declared major when you get to college. In 2018, I came to ISU with an “undeclared” major. I had not yet decided what I wanted to be or do with my life, and that is okay! It is hard to expect seniors in high school to know what they want to do for the rest of their lives, and it is a big decision. Take that gap year, go to community college, and figure out your likes and dislikes.

It is okay to drop things if they are not benefiting your well-being. When I got to ISU in the fall of 2018, I signed up for every extracurricular I could. I am on the exec/comm board for all of my RSO’s and have maintained two jobs for the last four years. Since two years of my college experience were virtual, I was able to juggle all of these things, but now that we are back in person, I am having a hard time balancing everything in my life. Something that I have learned throughout the last four years, it is okay to take a step back from things. I do not need to do everything.

Talk to your classmates. My favorite part of in-person classes is the talks before class begins. Everyone agrees they have no idea what is going on, the gossip, and the group chats that are made to communicate with one another. You are with the same group of people for your four years in school, so you gain good relationships with these people. I have met so many amazing people while at school and know I can text/call them if I need help writing lesson plans.

Have fun! The most important piece of advice I can give you is to enjoy your time in college. We are all young, and figuring out who we are as humans. Go out with your friends, treat yourself to a nice dinner, have a movie night, or explore your college town. You are really only in college once as a young adult and the real world is scary. College is a unique experience that is, yes, expensive, but very rewarding because of the life decisions you make while here. I have met some amazing friends while in college and I know they will be in my life for the rest of it. Always take time for a night to yourself, but give yourself a night off from school and the stress from whatever is happening at that moment. We get one life, and the memories we make will last a lifetime.

As much as I hate to say goodbye to Illinois State in three months, I would not change my experience for anything. I learned a lot about myself and found hobbies I never tried before. I honestly cannot believe my time here is almost up, but I feel blessed and fortunate for the memories I made while in college.

Lot’s of Love,

Jess <3

Jessica Hogeboom

Illinois State '22

ISU 2022 | Elementary Education Follow me on Instagram : @jesshogeboom