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How to Maximize Your College Experience: A Letter to the Overachiever

To anyone and everyone who resonates with the term “overachiever”:

This letter is for you because you remind me of myself at this time last year. I’ve only been in college for a year, but I have a TON of advice I’d like to share with my fellow overachievers, particularly on how to make your college experience the best it can possibly be. 

When I first started college last fall, I had the mindset that I should be taking as many classes as possible and collecting as many majors, minors, and degrees that I could in the next four years. Looking back on that, it’s a pretty intense mindset to have. Though I know that I originally felt that way because I wanted to get my money’s worth of college, I’ve since realized that there’s so much more to college than classes. Now you may be wondering why it took me so long to reach that conclusion, or perhaps you’re disagreeing with me, as education is the main point of college. And yes, I still do care immensely about my classes, and I strive to put as much effort as possible into my assignments. However, there comes a point in every overachiever’s life where they need to face the fact that there’s more to college than simply killing themselves with classes and drowning themselves in work. And since you’re reading this article, that time for you is now.

To give you some context: I came into college planning to get a dual degree in marketing and communication while also minoring in environmental science and creative writing. In order to do this, I would’ve had to take the maximum amount of credits allowed per semester every semester, and then some. I wouldn’t have had any time for a social life, but to freshman-year me, that didn’t matter. If you’ve ever seen “Modern Family”, I was acting exactly like Alex Dunphy, claiming that I didn’t care if I had a social life or time for extracurriculars because I was paying to get a good education, not to goof around. What a horrible mindset that was to have! Yes, college is about continuing your education in a field you’re passionate about, but it’s also about making wonderful friends, creating treasured memories with those friends, going to games, joining clubs, and just becoming an extremely well-rounded person overall. You can’t do that if your only focus is maintaining a 4.0 GPA! (It’s okay if it drops to a 3.7, it’s not gonna kill you, I promise.)

The main takeaway I want you to get from this article, my dear overachievers, is that it’s okay to let go a little bit. Don’t just major in something because you think it’s what your family wants you to do, or because it’s an incredibly hard major and you want that sweet academic validation. Major in something you’re truly passionate about, and that’ll already make your schoolwork a million times more fun. (Trust me, I know.) I went from pursuing a dual degree in marketing and communication and a double minor in environmental science and creative writing to double majoring in communication and film studies, and that was the best decision I’ve ever made. My classes energize me, since I’m learning about subjects I’m truly interested in, and I have a lot more free time to meet new people, make more memories, and, overall, maximize my college experience. Don’t be like Alex from “Modern Family.” Be like me, and know that it’s okay to let go a little bit. You’re only in college once, so make sure you do everything you can to make it the best four years of your life.

HCXO,

Katie

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Katie Ellsworth

U Mass Amherst '24

Katie (she/her) is a content editor for the University of Massachusetts Amherst chapter. She is a sophomore double majoring in communications and film studies. In her free time, you can typically find her napping with her dog, making YouTube videos, streaming on Twitch, or eating bagels!
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