Graduating is something that I've both dreaded and highly anticipated. A time I never thought would come, but is abruptly here and staring me in the eyes. Through the countless nights spent studying, bar hopping, clashing with parking services, getting involved in organizations, and meeting fantastic people, here are my 7 key takeaways of attending West Chester University.

1. Jake's is the best bar in town.

It's a running joke to some, an urban legend to others. I'm not sure what I would've done after a stressful day if I didn't have the comfort of this beautiful dive bar. Plus, $1 Coors? Who wouldn't be about it?

2. You don't need to go out to have fun.

Of course, going out is the status-quo fun of college. Sometimes, that's true. Other times, it's ok to spend a night in and regroup. Spend a night in because you're tired. Let's not act like we all don't need those special nights to do absolutely nothing, and be totally content with it.

3. Family is not always your blood.

Perhaps the most important lesson I've learned over time is that you choose your family. Family constitutes sharing unforgettable memories with unforgettable people, and never growing tired of each other's presence. I've met more people at WCU that I now consider my brothers and sisters than I have the previous 18 years of my life. I cherish that.

4. The West Chester parking situation will always be cancerous.

Not even close to enough commuter spots, tickets falling out of the sky, constant construction, removal of free lots, and tow trucks galore ready to forcibly remove your vehicle from its spot. I'll never stop beating this issue into the ground. I guess West Chester's reasonable 10k tuition is just too fair to not milk out millions more from its students with extremely limited parking choices. I don't have an immediate solution, but it's not my job to. Get with the program.

5. College is the best time to make mistakes, as long as you learn from them.

"You can't make the same mistake twice. The second time you make it, it's a choice." The luxury of dumb college choices is that there is plenty of time to improve upon them. We're all guilty of being spontaneous, clueless, and downright stupid in certain moments, and that's fine. Just be better next time.

6. You will be rewarded with the work that you put into things.

This one is clear cut. If you put in the time and effort to sharpen your skills in the classroom, friendships, sports, or whatever the case may be, you will see results. There are truly no shortcuts in life, and adhering to this philosophy will mold you into a much better person in the long run.

7. Diner Dan is indestructible.

If you ever attended West Chester, you know that Diner Dan is as famous as sliced bread. He's practically the West Chester version of Liam Neeson. Seldom did I mosey over to the Diner on campus and not see him working his tail off at the cash register. My only regret is never asking for an autograph.

I'll always have a place in my heart for WCU because it contributed to the man I'm proud to call myself today. From pioneering the History Club, to taking part in honors societies, to rekindling my passion for writing in the form of the Odyssey, I was provided an endless amount of opportunities. Like every other student, I've had my challenges and rough awakenings. I'm fortunate for them because I'm an improved individual who strives to be better each day. Regardless, when all is said and done, I'll always look back fondly in the time I spent as a Golden Ram.

Thank you, WCU. I can never repay you.