From Freshman To Sophomore, How A Year Can Make A Difference

From Freshman To Sophomore, How A Year Can Make A Difference

Wise words from a high school graduate and upcoming college sophomore.


A year ago I found myself on a high. I was ready to graduate, get out of my hometown, and start a new life at the college of my dreams. Everything seemed to be going right. I was prepared for final exams. My 18th birthday was around the corner. Family and friends were planning graduation parties to celebrate end-of-the-year accomplishments, and my senior trip to Mexico couldn't come soon enough. If only the month of April could speed up any faster, I thought.

When May came along I didn't think I could keep up. While we had planned weeks in advance, every day spent having an event became exhausting. Having final exams during the middle of it all didn't help either. As senior class president, I enjoyed being able to represent my classmates throughout the year and watching everyone come together to receive their awards made my heart fill with joy. It's amazing to see what a year can do.

Upon graduation night I'll admit I was a little nervous. Everything I had learned up to that point had been defined by my childhood and high school experiences. The future was unknown, and I didn't know what step to take next. Some would say I thrived in high school. I thrived at being at the top of my class, kept a 4.0 GPA, was involved in a multitude of extracurricular activities, worked a part-time job, and still found time to spend with friends and family. However, my speech at commencement did not include bragging rights for me to explain all the good I did throughout my four years at Jacksonville High. After graduating, I felt extremely blessed that I had an amazing experience with memories to last a lifetime. I wouldn't be the person I am today without the encouragement from my family, friends, teachers, and school administrators who made high school a highlight of my life.

But my story doesn't end there. And neither should yours.

Being removed from the standard high school setting and seeing the world for what it has to offer, I would never go back again. Though it was an incredible four years, I know it wasn't the best four years of my life. Yes, I had fun learning new subjects and going to athletic events meeting new people and gaining more friends. It is the place I made many memories, good and bad. But I have learned so much more since receiving my diploma and walking across the stage.

Nothing compares to freshman year of college.

I always knew high school wasn't going to be where I peaked. I've had dreams and aspirations to major in public relations at The University of Alabama, and I've accomplished it. I wanted to make new friends, study new subjects, and attend football games at the best school in the nation. I've found my new home in Tuscaloosa, and I couldn't be more thankful that the Lord has sent me here to make a difference. Though it is exhausting to be a full-time college student working two jobs and be involved on campus, the love and support of a college community are unlike any other. In high school, you are around the same people 24/7, but at university, I meet new people with different perspectives every day.

A year ago, I found myself heading on a road with vision but not knowing which path to take. I thought about all the ways my senior year had changed me and what college had in store. 10/10 would have to say that freshman year was one for the books. I made a new identity for myself — to not care about what others think and to stay true to my own morals and beliefs. With perseverance and hard work, I have been able to accomplish my goals and work towards future ones. I've grown in my walk with Christ and asked him to mold me into a woman of God ready to spread his gospel and use me according to his purpose.

Life has a crazy way of working itself out, despite the fears and anxiety of what is to come. To any high school senior, my best piece of advice is to enjoy this time you have left to the fullest. You'll miss having your friends and family close to your side when you are at university. Spend this summer exploring and experiencing new things. This past year I finally gave myself a chance to start living in the present moment. In response, I have been rewarded beyond measure. I've had incredible experiences and met indescribable people. Today, I am blessed for what the future has in store and trust that God has great plans for my life.

Wow, how a year can make a difference.

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Dear Soon-To-Be Seniors

These are a few things we'd like to tell you about Senior year.

Dear soon-to-be high school seniors,

Goodbye. As the class of ahead of you, we've watched you grow, always one step behind us. As we graduate, there are some things I'd like to tell you about your last year of high school.

Yes, Senior year can be just as amazing as everyone says it is, if you make it that way. But don't think it's a blow-off year with no work. This year may hold some of the most stressful times of your life.Be prepared for late nights writing papers or hard tests that could make or break your graduation status. However, don't stress too much about homework. A question I often asked myself this year was, "in twenty years, will I remember staying up till 2am studying for Econ? Or will I remember a fun night with my friends?" Ok, probably not the best advice if you don't have the best of grades, but most of the time you stress yourself out for no reason and miss out on fun things.

Another thing, try to get on the college grind early. If you haven't already, start looking at colleges and applying! Then narrow it down as soon as you can. You don't want to be stressed about that decision in the last month of senior year. Honestly, the sooner you can make your decision, the happier and less stressed you will probably be.

It's not too late to join new things either; a lot of people join a sport or a club senior year and have a lot of fun because of it. So try that thing you've always wanted to join! Speaking of which, go to prom! I won't tell you prom is the best experience of your life because for some people it's not, but it's pretty amazing. Don't stress too much about getting a date, either the right guy/girl will show up, or you'll just go with your friends and still have a blast.

Don't be too rude to the underclassmen. You were that young just a few years ago. And they're the ones who usually put your senior nights together, so make sure you thank them. Also keep in mind that they are looking up to you. Remember those seniors you looked up to just a few short years ago? Be a good example. Take your place in the school as Seniors and continue where we left off; carry on the legacy of your school and be proud of it.

If your school does Kairos (or a similar senior retreat), be absolutely open to it! If it's your thing, enjoy it! If it's not your thing, still try to be open to it. You don't have to love it, but at least don't hate on it before you've even been. Bonding with your class is a big part of senior year. I made so many new friends this year that I never thought I would if it hadn't been for Kairos.

Speaking of which, be open to new friends. Whether they're seniors or not, talk to everyone. In a few months, you may never see those kids again, so it's worth getting to know them past just being friends on Facebook. Also, don't give up on dating people in your class. Yeah, there's only a few months left and you've spent the last 4 years with these people, but there might be one person out there who could change your whole year for the better if you give them the chance.

Above all, enjoy it. You only get one senior year, so make it count. Go to everything you possibly can: every football game, dance, party, musical, bonfire, etc. Enjoy wearing the jersey of your team for the last time, taking your last bow on your high school stage, and turning in your last final, because it will all be gone within the blink of an eye. You'll find yourself walking down the aisle in a cap and gown of those same school colors you thought you despised (but really, you'll secretly miss). You'll look at your favorite teachers lined up behind you and your family sitting in front of you, and most importantly your class around you, and I hope, I really hope, you don't regret a single moment of senior year.

Cover Image Credit: Anna Skog

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