Memory is a funny thing; you can neither control nor predict what will stick with you. As graduation draws near, we all — especially the seniors — are inevitably looking back on our college experiences. It’s interesting to note which things stand out in our minds and which have faded away. Both are indicative of what college has meant to us.
When facing a big change like the end of school, some people prefer to avoid reliving old memories because of the bittersweet tang they bring. I, on the other hand, have been listening to “Graduation” by Vitamin C while sobbing over iPhoto albums every night since spring break.
So, as a senior who is fully wallowing in nostalgia for her entire college experience, I feel especially equipped to give younger students some advice about how to make the most of their remaining time at the College of William and Mary. Fellow seniors, feel free to cry and nod along as you read.
To the freshmen
If I have a single regret about my own college experience, it’s that I assumed it was too late to start something new after freshman year. Your first year is ending, and I hope that you’ve joined clubs, gone to events, and said ‘yes’ to anything that sounded remotely interesting. But if you haven’t, that’s fine; you’ll still have three years to do all of these things. Next year, “it’s too late” will not be a valid excuse. Just do it, whatever it may be, and you will not regret trying it.
The same goes for making friends. Maybe you’ve joined a Greek organization or formed a tight group with your hallmates. But, don’t close yourself off to new friendships. Anyone older will tell you that people change, situations change, and there is little chance that your friend group will be the exact same three years from now. This is a good thing. Every person you become close with brings out a different side of you and gives you a part of them in return.
To the sophomores
Your workload has picked up by now, and next year will be tough, too. You will have to continue to work hard, but don’t let this ruin your college experience. Do favors for your future self and try to keep the procrastination to a minimum. You will inevitably miss out from time to time on a beach trip or a party, but that’s okay; you’ll forget about it eventually. Sometimes, though, skip the studying and choose the beach. You’ll remember it much more than you’ll remember a minuscule GPA boost. I promise.
To the juniors
My advice to you is pretty simple: Live up your last year. Even though the ‘carpe diem’ spiel has been given so many times that it’s lost a lot of meaning, try to keep it in mind. You only have one more year in this little bubble of zero real-world responsibilities, and it does fly by. Senior year will go faster than any of the others. Now that the real world is so close for me, the fact that I live with (or nearby) all of my friends is suddenly starting to seem so perfect that it’s surreal. Don’t spend the year agonizing over every minute and event as the last one, but do remind yourself to enjoy and appreciate them.
To the seniors
Well, it’s almost here. It’s crazy to think that these four years will one day be condensed into the phrase “back in college…” as if those few words fully capture a time which has been filled with so many ups and downs, bad days and great months, and friends and professors that shaped and inspired us. Remember this time; smile at the memories and move forward. We are now the people this institution has made us. Let’s throw ourselves into whatever comes next.
Email Emily Kelley at firstname.lastname@example.org.