Coming into college, there are a lot of unknowns, and you often do not get a solid grasp of not only “how to survive college” but how to truly thrive until you are almost done with your undergraduate degree.
Fortunately, I and countless other Raiders have relied on the advice, mentorship and guidance of upperclassmen that have come before us to help us succeed our first and subsequent semesters. It is my hope that advice of the many students who contributed advice to this column will help current underclassmen and those to come to succeed in their academic, professional, social and personal endeavors.
The most common and arguably most important piece of advice is to get involved early and regularly, whether it is an academic club, Greek organization, club sports team, cultural group or other student organization. Do not just attend events from other organizations: get involved in their daily functions and help plan trips, events, fundraisers and other functions. There is so much to learn in terms of professional development, personal skills and social skills just from getting involved in an otherwise “fun” activity.
Additionally, do not let your ego stretch you too far, and do not be afraid to ask for help. We attend a small university with dedicated faculty and staff who can support you holistically in almost every capacity from mental health and spiritual health to learning development – use them.
Something I did not learn until almost halfway through my junior year is not only to ensure you are not spread too thin on your activities and academics but also in terms of your friends. When you graduate, who are you going to talk to? Developing a few meaningful friendships is substantially more rewarding than a lot of very surface-level relationships. Plus, they are the ones that will last beyond Shippensburg University. Make time to make memories as your time at Shippensburg is truly very short in the grand scheme of things.
Another important lesson is to not be afraid to “screw up,” as these will be the most defining moments of growth during your academic career. Try new things and make mistakes, as long as you learn and grow from them. It is a lot easier to make mistakes here where they are more easily correctable rather than in the “real world,” where it could easily cost you a job, promotion, reputation or relationship.
In whatever you choose, choose your own direction. Let others guide and mentor you and a few personal mentors at Shippensburg will unequivocally be a key to your success; however, do not be afraid to make your own decisions because ultimately it is your life and not theirs. Seek wise counsel, but ultimately choose your own path.
A few final tips from upperclassmen include bringing a hammock to campus, studying in a hammock off the west quad and filling your water bottle at Reisner when you go in for lunch.
All in all, these are merely a few pieces of advice from soon-graduating underclassmen to give a thought to. Want more advice? Find those mentors to guide your path to commencement and help you not only survive your college experience but to make it into a fun, meaningful and purposeful time in life.
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