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Advice From a Graduating Senior



Ah, unsolicited advice. Everyone’s least favorite source of recommendations that usually rears its head around the holidays, given by older relatives who decide that they have your best interests in mind. This article is full of advice, but fear not! It’s not nearly the same brand as the type you’ll be getting in the next couple of weeks. This advice is coming to you by someone who is in your shoes-- a graduating college student who is looking back on her time at school and reminiscing, wishing she had done certain things differently. 


I’ve loved my time at Michigan State University, and there’s a lot of things that I’ve done while I’m here that I’m proud of. However, I’ve noticed with my time getting cut short with the move to virtual learning that there were a lot of things I never did simply because I thought I would have more time to do them. Additionally, it took becoming a tour guide here on campus to even find out about some of the awesome things we have on campus. What’s up with that? There are so many amazing things to do here at MSU, especially with it being a massive Big Ten school- how did I not expand my horizons just a little bit more? That’s the whole glory of being in college- you’re supposed to branch out and find more things you’re interested in to take with you for the rest of your life.


So, here’s what you should be doing to really get the most of your college experience, from someone who wished she had realized these things two years ago, rather than two weeks before she graduates.


First, join more clubs. You probably hear this a lot, but it’s one of the things I wish I could shake my younger self by her shoulders and tell her to do. Yeah, you might not have a whole lot of time on your hands, but hear me out here. Usually, when you join a club, they have a couple meetings before anything big happens (paying any club dues/fees, events that you need to dedicate time to, etc.). So what’s the harm in signing up for the club and attending the first couple meetings? If you’re not interested, you don’t have to come back (and no one will be hunting you down with pitchforks if you stop going to meetings, so who cares?). This allows you to meet more people and try out some new things. MSU has over 900 clubs, and I explored less than 10 of them. Even if you only have a vague, remote interest in the idea that the club is based around, sign up! It doesn’t hurt to check it out and see if it’s something you think would interest you in the long term. Plus, you might meet a few friends along the way!


Another item of this vein is to take more classes that just sound interesting to you. Obviously, this only works if you have room in your schedule (and have some wiggle room with block tuition if you’re at MSU), but you’ll probably have more room during your senior year and have your requirements out of the way. I took two history classes (and would’ve taken a scuba diving class, but COVID took that dream from me) just for fun, and I seriously enjoyed both of them. Because they were topics I liked, I did well in them, so they boosted my GPA and allowed me to dive into topics I was actually interested in, rather than things I was required to learn. If this is an option available to you, I highly recommend it.


Something I wish I had done more throughout my time in undergrad was to explore campus more. This is another cliche, and I know someone (likely multiple people) told you before you got to your campus, but who actually has the time to explore every nook and cranny of campus- especially if you’re at a school like MSU? Unfortunately, I didn’t think much of any of this until I became a tour guide, and found myself stumbling across spots on campus I had never even seen before. My recommendation to you is this: make checklists of different aspects of campus you haven’t checked out. Make a list of every dining hall and go. Make a list of the different engagement or resource centers and take a look around. Make a list of great study spots and plan to study there. If you’re at MSU, I recommend the basement or second floor of the Union, anywhere in the library, the courtyard behind the Auditorium or the Student Services building, or to just wander through any academic building for an empty classroom. There are SO many nooks and crannies on your campus for you to make your special spot- the earlier you find it the better!


While I could go on and on about different things you should be joining or doing on your campus before you graduate, I’ll make myself stop so I don’t actually sound like whatever relative that will be giving you unsolicited advice this holiday season. However, I will leave you with one main piece of advice: college is a time for you to go out and do whatever you want to do, so get out there and do it. If there’s anything that COVID taught me (and the rest of the class of 2020), there’s no guarantee that the “later” in the statement “I’ll just do it later!” is guaranteed. I had so many things I was saving for my senior year that I’ll never be able to do, and I don’t want anyone else to experience that feeling if they can prevent it. So go out to that dinner with a friend that you were on edge about! Buy tickets for that basketball game! Join a club you’re kind of interested in! Pop into a new building on campus! New experiences are what college is all about, and if you’re on a campus like MSU’s, you can find one every day- so get out there and do it.

Hi! My name is Katie Kobiljak, and I am a senior at Michigan State University studying political theory and constitutional democracy. In my free time, I play tennis, run, ski, and follow politics.
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