Hello, class of 2018, and welcome to Jacksonville State University—your home-away-from home for at least the next four years. You’ve finally broken away from the seemingly endless world of high school and entered an entirely new realm of possibilities. There is freedom. There is responsibility. There is a new beginning.
With the first full week coming to a close, I happened upon a list I made for myself after the end of my own freshman year. This list serves as a “manual” of sorts to keep myself in check (no matter what scenario I might find myself faced with). So here are several tidbits to keep in mind, all you first year Gamecocks who are just getting a taste of the college experience (or any upperclassmen that might just want to compare survival tips of your own), my “How-To” tips for a productive, successful and enjoyable college experience.
Rule 1: College is all about you. This might sound a little harsh at first, but it’s true. The number one reason that you’re here is to gain a quality education. Yes, you are networking with others. Yes, you are going to have a plethora of new relationships right at your fingertips. Just remember when it comes down to making big decisions on this campus that you are the reason you are here and once everything is all said and done, you are really the only person that you can count on.
Rule 2: Keep your eyes on the prize. When you walk onto a college campus, there is an enormous difference from where you just found yourself. In high school, you were essentially trapped indoors for at least eight hours a day, not counting extracurricular activities that you wanted to pursue. In college, you can essentially do whatever you want whenever you like. This is a lot of freedom, so don’t squander it. Remember that there is a finish line and the goal is still going to be the same: receiving an education. That education is only going to reap as much for you as the amount of time and effort that you put into it.
Rule 3: Be realistic. If you’re anything at all like me, you probably were involved in your high school in some way, shape, form or fashion. Student government, football, Beta club, choir, cross country, key club, cheerleading, Future Business Leaders of America, Spanish club—the list goes on. And on. And on. In high school, it was easy to say you wanted to be involved with everything and do just that. In college, it’s a bit different. Try your best to pick just one thing that you care the most about or can do well or makes you the most passionate, then go from there. When all is said and done, you can do several things in a mediocre way or you can hone in on one thing and give it all you’ve got.
Rule 4: Enjoy. The next couple years of your life, no matter where you are, what you’re doing, or who you’re with, are meant to be stressful, hectic, but more importantly, FUN. Refuse to believe that you’ve reached the best years of your life just yet, but know that they’re right around the corner, and what you do in college will influence them greatly. You only get one undergraduate college experience, so do your best to make the best of it.