Her Campus Logo Her Campus Logo
The opinions expressed in this article are the writer’s own and do not reflect the views of Her Campus.
This article is written by a student writer from the Her Campus at TCU chapter.

As my junior year of college comes to a close, I’ve been struggling with the notion of experiencing college the “right” way. I find myself looking back on the last three years, reflecting on my memories (good and bad) before I brave the undertaking that is senior year. It feels strange.

I made a pledge to myself freshman year to soak in every moment of college. COVID forced all of us to appreciate time a little bit more then. But as I recently wrote in a school essay, “Time, the skilled thief, is patient.” It allowed me a mental reprieve and filled freshman year with magical moments and meaningful memories. I stayed intentional about being truly present. And through the elating highs and debilitating lows, I had no regrets because I lived every day fully, to the best of my ability.

The problem becomes the comfort. Sophomore year may have been challenging in certain regards, but at the core, TCU already felt like home. It was safe. I had a year of learning behind me and endless college years ahead of me to enjoy. I settled in, settled down, and built a routine I loved. I started floating through life instead of grounding myself in every experience. It felt like I’d have these things, these people, and this place forever. My comfort killed my intentionality. 

Junior year hit me like a bus. It’s complicated. I remember the excitement of moving off campus, cooking my first meal in my own kitchen, and hosting a movie night where there was actually enough space and furniture for everyone. It felt like freedom. It also created a disconnect.

There was the person I’d been, and then there was the person I could feel myself becoming. There was the girl who in her very bones knew she belonged here and the girl who had slowly, surely, started sneaking glances at a future far from here. There was the me who appreciated every moment and the me who could feel time slipping out from beneath my feet. Then and now. Safe and scared. Here and not.

It kept occurring to me: how was I going to make the best of my last few weeks of junior year? How was I going to make senior year movie-worthy? Was I doing college “right?”

Hit the brakes.

This idea kills the college experience. Especially when crunch time rolls around and the bucket lists start getting drawn up. We have all these misconceptions about how to do college “right.” You have to go out and party and make sure you get invited to an away formal. You need to explore your entire college town and try every menu item at every local restaurant. You need to attend every sporting game and every on-campus event. Kiss a boy, watch the sunset over the stadium, win a National Championship, and take too many shots when you turn 21 (check, but don’t tell my mom). As the clock ticks time away, these to-do’s become necessities before you graduate. Do it right; otherwise, you’ll live with college regrets.

Respectfully, this has to be bullsh*t.

The pressure is insane! I’d like to believe I’m pretty self-guided when it comes to pouring time and energy into things I genuinely care about, but even I feel myself succumbing to the groupthink.

I choose to go to the Fort Worth Symphony on a Friday night instead of the bars, and suddenly, I’m worried I won’t recall with perfect clarity the sounds and smells of our college bar in ten years.

I choose to sleep in and forfeit a morning I could have spent running through campus. What if I forget the feel of the Greek Loop under my feet?

I eat at my favorite restaurant and wonder if I’d love someplace else more if I bothered to try it. Am I really a Fort Worth native (even a temporary one) if I’m not constantly branching out?

When you find yourself questioning your choices and criticizing the things you love, there’s an issue. The truth is, there is no “right” way to do college. No amount of bucket list items completed will make the goodbye less hard. You will never feel like you did enough because there will always be more. It’s impossible to do it all.

It’s impossible to do it all.

All you can do is the best thing for you in every moment. Whatever you choose, be present. These years go by faster than you think. Don’t get comfortable or complacent. Keep branching out, and however that looks for you, be proud of the experiences you create for yourself.

Remember, the “right” way is whatever is right for you. You can’t come back to these years. You can’t return to these moments. The you that resides here will move on. She will change and grow beyond the campus acreage. Indulge in her now. See her now. Because one day, she’ll be gone. The goodbye won’t be easy, but you’ll be ready for it when the day comes. And when you glance at her over your shoulder, you want to be proud of doing right by her, no matter the pressures you felt back then.

Colleen Wyrick is President of the Her Campus at TCU chapter. She enjoys writing about current pop culture events, female empowerment, and her latest book/TV interest. She loves her role and connecting with new members! Colleen is an aspiring writer/editor/publisher/professor and is a junior (*sigh*) at Texas Christian University studying English and Communication. In addition to Her Campus, she contributes to academic publications for the English Department and works for TCU’s social media team. She is very passionate about books, Marvel, chocolate, soccer, and all things comfortable. You can find her doing anything and everything because she loves new adventures!