What I’ve Learned as an Undergraduate Student

Countless hours and energy put into school work, classes year-long, many regrets, mistakes, successes and three schools later, I’m finally riding out my last semester as an undergraduate student. Similar to most college students I’m sure, it hasn’t been the smoothest ride. However, because of that, I learned quite a lot, not only about myself as a person, but also school, careers and life in general. 

First and foremost, not having a concrete plan is okay. Going into getting my bachelor’s degree, my confusion and uncertainty about what I wanted to major in and what career I wanted was overwhelming. I quickly disguised that with a plan to major in journalism, ride out my four years at Mizzou and graduate. A big part of me knew that didn’t exactly feel right, but external and internal influences made it hard for me to figure out what it was that I truly wanted. Making space for me to explore and learn more about myself helped me find my calling. Many colleges offer some form of career exploration, whether that be a class or services offered — look into them and take advantage of it. And while I eventually did figure out my major and what I wanted to do with it, my happiness and fulfillment away at school started to decline. My mental health took a nosedive and it got the point where I knew going home was probably the best thing for me.

That brings me to my next point: if you’re in the midst of figuring out what you want, you might as well save money doing it. Going back home for me also meant enrolling at my local community college. At the time, I was only a freshman, so all the courses I was taking were general education requirements. Luckily, once I figured out where I wanted to continue my education, all those classes transferred. I didn’t see the point in wasting money staying at a school that was much more expensive and where I was miserable. Community college often has a negative connotation, but there’s no shame in choosing it. Ultimately, you’ll be saving yourself so much money (student loans are no joke) and for me, that was worth it. 

Upon transferring to UMKC, initially I had one friend. It took many uncomfortable situations for me to grow and make more. Trust me, I get that this is much easier said than done. Many times I had to remind myself that particular situations were not permanent, that the feelings I had were not permanent and that overall, I would be okay. It took eating alone at the cafeteria numerous times, being the one to initiate conversations with classmates and attending organization meetings alone to truly grow more comfortable with myself. However, now that I’m acquainted with so many of my peers, have a wonderful group of friends and an invaluable experience of joining Her Campus at UMKC, I know it was all worth it. So yeah, putting yourself out of your comfort zone is strange and scary, but visualizing what’s on the other side can be a great encouragement. 

Making mistakes is human, it’s normal and it’s inevitable. So many of us are so petrified of [email protected]¿k!ng up that it holds us back. Whether it be fear of saying the wrong thing in front of a group of people, doing the wrong thing at work or at an internship or accidentally hurting someone we love, lessons can come from it all. Self-compassion and forgiveness is essential in life. What’s done is done in many mistakes, so facing the consequences and paying attention to the lesson is all we can do to learn and move on. 

Ultimately, the biggest lesson is to balance discipline and fun. Try not to take yourself or life too seriously, but don’t neglect all of your hard work thus far. Oh, and one last thing: your worth and life should be much more besides school and grades.