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College Lessons I’m Taking Into the Real World

With graduation just around the corner, I’ve been doing a lot of thinking lately. Thinking about post-grad plans for sure, but also reminiscing and remembering all the steps I took that have led me to this very moment. There are so many people I’ve met along the way, so many experiences, and so many things I’ve learned from them that I think will serve me well as I move into this next chapter of my life. Whether learning from a mistake I’ve made or learning from things I did that went well, they are all lessons I’ll still be carrying with me after graduation.

Enjoy Every Day

One thing I know almost every student can agree on is that the time spent in school goes by almost too fast to fully enjoy it. Not that I took everything for granted, but, looking back, I wish I had been more present in the moment, more intentional with my time - even in the mundane day-to-day things of college life.

Moving forward, wherever my career takes me, I want to enjoy and appreciate each day I have, whatever it brings, good or bad because I know that if I don’t, one day I’ll look back and wish I did. 

Try New Things

This one I may have gotten right during college (probably because I learned from playing it too safe during high school). I definitely reached beyond my comfort zone, getting involved on campus and at least making an effort to try things I never thought I would. Not every single thing I tried or applied to worked out, but I’m nonetheless so very glad I tried different things. For example, taking graphic design, becoming an RA and even writing for Her Campus were all new and different experiences for me, but I learned and grew from each of them, which I am forever grateful for. In the future, I hope I’ll try to go even further beyond my comfort zone challenging myself more than I did over these past four years. 

Connect, Connect, & Connect Some More

One thing I regret the most about college is not getting to know more people. I had my friends, of course, and some faculty that I would talk to from time to time, but with all the people on our campus, all the life stories, wisdom, talent, and intelligence that I could have learned from and connected with, I may have missed out on a lot of great opportunities. Moving forward, I want to make sure I take more time to talk to people and get to know them because who knows the impact even a few minutes of connecting with someone could have on a person’s life.

Stay in Touch

This is a lesson I’ve learned over the course of this last year in school. Once you make meaningful connections, you have to make an effort to maintain those connections. Being fully remote for this last year helped me get an idea of what life after school will be like. Not living on campus with my friends and no longer having the convenience of running into people every now and then made me realize, you really need to pick up the phone and call people. After graduation, everyone will be off somewhere living their lives, doing amazing things, but that doesn’t mean those relationships have to end there. Just make it a priority to reach out from time to time. 

Be Proactive about Burnout

This is one of the more practical lessons I’ll be taking with me into the work world. Burnout is a real thing, but it’s not inevitable. I learned this one the hard way, but if you take the time to talk to your support system often, take breaks when you need to, prioritize your sleep, and all the other things that help you perform at your best, I’ve found that you do just fine. When I take care of all these things in advance, when stressful times come, they don’t take me out. I’m able to manage it, to work through it. 

Respond to Emails Promptly

Another practical lesson I’ve learned. Very simple, but responding to emails promptly is essential to professionalism. It doesn’t look too good to others (and is sometimes just plain rude) when you don’t respond within a reasonable amount of time.

Also, if checking your email isn’t a habit, you should make it one because opportunities for jobs, internships, etc. may be sent to your inbox, but if you don’t check, you’ll never know and miss out.

Use a Planner for Everything

During my freshman year, in my Messina class with Father Brown, I will never forget his advice to our class, “If you never write it down it won’t happen.” This is so true! I use a planner for everything from schoolwork, to chores, to appointments, to basically everything I need to do during the day or throughout the week, no matter what it is. Sometimes I have to write down “do hair” or “do laundry” to make sure I schedule time for those things as well.

Ms. Raven, the director of ALANA Services, also told me during my freshman year to write down and schedule time for self-care. Anything you want to get done, you have to write it down to make it happen, and I know this lesson will certainly serve me well wherever I go after graduation. 

Jayda Lawlah is a senior at Loyola University Maryland studying Psychology. In addition to her interest in Psychology, she also has a love for all things studio art and graphic design. On campus, she is an RA and peer mentor, and she is also currently the Vice President of Loyola's Black Student Association.
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