It is hard to believe that I will be graduating from college! I have gained an abundance of knowledge and insight in my undergraduate years at Valparaiso University. However, even though I have acquired new understandings, one thing I know for sure is that I don’t know everything, and I don’t have all the answers. Having acknowledged that, college does help you prepare for life. Undoubtedly, it is a time of great personal growth. As I look back over the past four years, I can see the changes that have taken place in my life. I am continually evolving, evaluating, and modifying my life views.
Along my journey, there have been many successes but also several failures. The key is to learn from your mistakes and figure out how to continue to move forward. For example, if I received a grade I was not happy with, I sought out additional help from professors or campus services in order to have a favorable outcome in class. Through this, I learned my professors wanted me to succeed – don’t be afraid to ask for help. It is critical for students to play an active role in their education. Go to class, take notes, ask questions, and find a study buddy. Figure out what best works for you and then do it!
Being involved in campus life and campus organizations is an important aspect of the college experience. It teaches you how to be a good citizen. The old adage is true: the more you give, the more you receive. Working on committees and projects afforded me the opportunity to get to know many students I would not otherwise meet. Nothing says “bonding” like working on a project deadline at 2 a.m.! Being a part of campus life allowed me to figure out what things interested me, how to interact with a group of diverse minds, and how to effect change. Many life skills are learned in campus life activities. The art of negotiation, the craft of diplomacy, and the ability to think outside of the box are all things that must be experienced and are not necessarily taught in the classroom. Campus organizations often contributed to the transformation of a follower or member into a leader. Student organizations are full of executive councils, committees, and other positions. By simply saying yes, you open the door to personal and professional growth, which is an added bonus to what you learn in the classroom. The interpersonal skills that develop from being active in extracurricular activities are the “boost” that allows an individual to step up to the next level. Just a note – get involved, but not to the point of sacrificing your academics or sanity. Evaluate what things or organizations are really worth your time and effort. Surround yourself with things you find enjoyable and of interest to you.
Acknowledge that some things are just not going to go your way. With that said, don’t beat yourself up when things go awry. Forgive yourself, dust yourself off, adjust your thinking, and forge ahead. Life is all about balance. Enjoy and celebrate when things work out the way you planned. However, be prepared to suffer disappointment and missteps. It is all about growth and sometimes growth can only occur when you fail. If you aren’t selected for a particular position, try a different one. If the event that you coordinated flops, figure out how it could be improved. Take pride in the fact that you formulated an idea and you gave it your best effort. Reflect on the event and see what went well, what needs improved, and ask outside sources for their thoughts. Learning to adjust and adapt is an on-going challenge. Look for ways to be positive make it work, regardless of your circumstances.
As I prepare to leave Valparaiso University, I know that I have received a solid education both academically and from my involvement in outside activities. I have enjoyed every minute of my collegiate career. I am excited about my next steps and am anxious to make contributions to our society.