To The Returning College Students

To The Returning College Students

The Freshmen have plenty of advice, so here's yours.
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I've done the Freshman thing. I packed up, left home, moved into a TINY dorm, taken classes, found my people at college, but what's next? I love college, and leading up to my college experience, I was often told, "These are going to be the best years of your life." And they have been, but often times, people may think the goal of college is to pass a class, find your place, and make it through. But there's more to college after your Freshman year, and this article is for those people who have made it through a year, at least, in the college lifestyle. Here're the things they won't tell you about coming back:

There are people outside your current friend group and clubs outside your clubs.

Okay, I know this. You know this. This isn't some mind blowing fact, but it is still something that needs to be acknowledged. Whether you're a Sophomore or a fifth year Senior, this is still relevant. It is so easy to stick to certain people because, let's face it, these are YOUR people. But don't limit yourself to the friends you have. Branch out. Meet new people, and make new friends alongside the old. Be real with people, and be yourself. Whether you're in Residential Life, Greek Life, Student Leadership, College Athletics, or even just a group of friends who study together (or nothing at all), it's never too late to get involved with other college habitats. Befriend other people who may not share the same letters, colors, or activities. Often times we are so comfortable in our own college niche that we are afraid to try something new. I also think that club stereotypes can lead us down another road of fear, but I encourage you to put aside all rumors and get to know people for yourself. Get to know clubs for yourself. Be slow to base your judgments on what you have heard, and give people and clubs a chance. Sometimes giving things a chance can lead us to new friendships and places we wouldn't be without the willingness to be uncomfortable.

There are days where you may still be unsure about what you plan to do with your life.

College is tricky. I cannot tell you how many tough decisions come with the college lifestyle, and the question that haunts people most is usually, "What's your major?" Listen, sometimes, it isn't going to be clear on what you want to do when you first go into college. Sometimes, it may not get clearer after your first year either, and that is okay. I encourage you to continue to explore what you're passionate about. Find something you love, and try to make a career out of it. Talk to professors, friends, and family. Be open with what you love and be patient when choosing a major. Maybe you don't know, and that's okay. And while college has a lot to offer, don't forget why you're there. Go to class. Study. Work hard. Get a good education. At the end of the day, remember what matters. Sometimes, you will have to miss that dinner with all your friends to write a paper. Sometimes, you will have to lose a few hours of sleep for that exam. Nobody ever regrets a bad grade, so try hard. Continue to try hard. It's worth it.

There are parents and family members that you will never stop missing while you're away.

I had a really hard time leaving home, granted, I am only two hours away, but it was still incredibly difficult. It's not easy to leave the ones you love, even though the freedom is nice. I was ready to get away from home my first semester in college, but like any college teen, I missed my parents a lot. Somethings never change. I still miss my family, and I don't know if I will ever shake that. There are times I still cry when I leave home, and there are still times I have to call my Mom and ask her how to get a stain out. Call them when you miss them. Answer when they call. And spend time with them when you can. You can't choose your family, but you can choose the way you love them, so love them fiercely.

There is a world outside of college.

College is not the end of the world. That relationship that didn't work out, the friendship that didn't last, and the bad grade on an exam— these things do not define you as a person in this world. Make the most of what you can. Let go of the things that weigh you down. Celebrate on the good days. Laugh on the bad days. Find joy in your circumstances. Be passionate. Eat poorly (sometimes). Take a nap. Cry a little. Be good to yourself. Be proud of what you've accomplished. One day, you may look back and miss this time, but for now, enjoy building a life for yourself in this world because you deserve a life full of passion for looking back on.

College is a time to truly find yourself. Freshman year is a challenge in itself, and, quite frankly, there are still many aspects of continuing growth in. After that year, the college experience will continue full force. Classes get harder and people grow apart, but that's never a time to stop being uncomfortable. College demands change and growth. College is not a time for convenience. It's a time to surround yourself with people who love you, encourage you, and fight for you. It's a time to study, drink coffee, and go to class. It's a time to miss your family, enjoy holidays, and call your mom frequently. It's a time to forgive, forget, and find joy in the simple things. College isn't an easy time, but it's a time to learn about everything in life, especially ourselves. So to all you Sophomores, Juniors, Seniors, and advanced Seniors, it's not too late to try something new. It's not too late to find yourself. It's not too late to be uncomfortable.



Cover Image Credit: Julia Qualls

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​An Open Letter To The People Who Don’t Tip Their Servers

This one's for you.
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Dear Person Who Has No Idea How Much The 0 In The “Tip:" Line Matters,

I want to by asking you a simple question: Why?

Is it because you can't afford it? Is it because you are blind to the fact that the tip you leave is how the waiter/waitress serving you is making their living? Is it because you're just lazy and you “don't feel like it"?

Is it because you think that, while taking care of not only your table but at least three to five others, they took too long bringing you that side of ranch dressing? Or is it just because you're unaware that as a server these people make $2.85 an hour plus TIPS?

The average waiter/waitress is only supposed to be paid $2.13 an hour plus tips according to the U.S. Department of Labor.

That then leaves the waiter/waitress with a paycheck with the numbers **$0.00** and the words “Not a real paycheck." stamped on it. Therefore these men and women completely rely on the tips they make during the week to pay their bills.

So, with that being said, I have a few words for those of you who are ignorant enough to leave without leaving a few dollars in the “tip:" line.

Imagine if you go to work, the night starts off slow, then almost like a bomb went off the entire workplace is chaotic and you can't seem to find a minute to stop and breathe, let alone think about what to do next.

Imagine that you are helping a total of six different groups of people at one time, with each group containing two to 10 people.

Imagine that you are working your ass off to make sure that these customers have the best experience possible. Then you cash them out, you hand them a pen and a receipt, say “Thank you so much! It was a pleasure serving you, have a great day!"

Imagine you walk away to attempt to start one of the 17 other things you need to complete, watch as the group you just thanked leaves, and maybe even wave goodbye.

Imagine you are cleaning up the mess that they have so kindly left behind, you look down at the receipt and realize there's a sad face on the tip line of a $24.83 bill.

Imagine how devastated you feel knowing that you helped these people as much as you could just to have them throw water on the fire you need to complete the night.

Now, realize that whenever you decide not to tip your waitress, this is nine out of 10 times what they go through. I cannot stress enough how important it is for people to realize that this is someone's profession — whether they are a college student, a single mother working their second job of the day, a new dad who needs to pay off the loan he needed to take out to get a safer car for his child, your friend, your mom, your dad, your sister, your brother, you.

If you cannot afford to tip, do not come out to eat. If you cannot afford the three alcoholic drinks you gulped down, plus your food and a tip do not come out to eat.

If you cannot afford the $10 wings that become half-off on Tuesdays plus that water you asked for, do not come out to eat.

If you cannot see that the person in front of you is working their best to accommodate you, while trying to do the same for the other five tables around you, do not come out to eat. If you cannot realize that the man or woman in front of you is a real person, with their own personal lives and problems and that maybe these problems have led them to be the reason they are standing in front of you, then do not come out to eat.

As a server myself, it kills me to see the people around me being deprived of the money that they were supposed to earn. It kills me to see the three dollars you left on a $40 bill. It kills me that you cannot stand to put yourself in our shoes — as if you're better than us. I wonder if you realize that you single-handedly ruined part of our nights.

I wonder if maybe one day you will be in our shoes, and I hope to God no one treats you how you have treated us. But if they do, then maybe you'll realize how we felt when you left no tip after we gave you our time.

Cover Image Credit: Hailea Shallock

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Everyone Should Experience Working In Fast Food Or Retail

Working in fast food was definitely not sunshine, lollipops, and rainbows, but I'm so glad I did it.

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I know these jobs aren't glamorous. In fact, most days I looked forward to clocking out before I had even clocked in. I always secretly rolled my eyes when an angry customer droned on and on about how entitled he or she was. Though I can name a lot of bad things that happened on the job, it wasn't all horrible. As I reflect on my time working in fast food, I realize how much having that job really taught me and how grateful I am to have had that experience. I really think everyone should work in fast food or retail at some point, and here's why:

You make some great friends from work. I get it, sometimes your co-workers are royal jerks or flat out creeps. You see your name on the schedule next to theirs and immediately try switching with someone else. I've been there. However, I have worked with some amazing people as well.

Every time I worked with one girl in particular, we laughed for entire shifts. One night, we were singing the national anthem at the top of our lungs without realizing a customer had come in (to our surprise, she applauded our terrible screaming). Another coworker and I turned up the radio on full blast when business was slow and had dance battles. We made the most of our shifts, and I still talk to some of these people today.

You learn how to deal with difficult people. It's the age-old story: the uppity customer thinks twelve dollars for a meal combo is outrageous and Where is your manager?!

My friend and I were once called stupid and a customer said he would never come back to our restaurant to eat ever again. At the moment, we were scared out of our minds because we were both pretty new to the job. As time passed, we became more patient and tolerant and knew what triggered these particular customers. Dealing with these adversities definitely helps in the long run, particularly when it comes to doing group work with people who seem unbearable.

Your people skills increase by a landslide. I had always thought that I was great with people before I had a job. However, when I found myself in situations where I had to talk to strangers, I would grow nervous and stumble across my words from time to time. Working in an environment where communicating with others is a driving force helped me not only with improving my public speaking, but also made me more outgoing. In situations where I once backed into the corner to avoid having to talk to someone, I now take charge and initiate a conversation.

You establish a connection with regular customers. My favorite customer was named Jack. He was the sweetest old man who came in every Wednesday and Friday and bought food for himself and his wife. I quickly memorized his order, which impressed him. We shared pleasantries every time he came in, and my coworkers and I looked forward to seeing him.

Establishing a relationship with people who come in a lot helps immensely when it comes to working. It also provides a sense of accomplishment when you memorize an order. Not to mention, the customers start to like you and typically leave a generous tip!

You have stories to tell for a lifetime! Sometimes bad things happen at work. Once I was holding a hot pan and burned my arm— I still have the burn mark on my arm to prove it. My point is, it sucked at the moment, but now I look back and laugh.

One time I asked my coworker how to make soup and she replied, "Slowly, but beautifully." It was so nonchalant that I cracked up for hours. There was also a time when a customer asked me for outlandish toppings and condiments that we didn't offer. The craziest story, though, was the drug deal that went down in our public restrooms. My coworker and I obviously could not leave our station and follow these people into the bathroom, so we were pretty much defenseless. Nobody got hurt or anything, so it made for a great story.

Working in fast food was definitely not sunshine, lollipops, and rainbows, but I'm so glad I did it. It made me more independent and outgoing and gave me memories I'll never forget.

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