Senior year is a big deal. Whether you're a first-generation student, a transfer student, whatever your situation may be, senior year is a year of accomplishment and so much to celebrate.
There are so many lasts to experience...last class, last finals, last crown hopping, last night out with your friends, etc.
There are so many memories to make..graduation, senior week, last toast, etc.
This year everything was cut short.
About midway through the second semester of senior year, many colleges shut down, face-to-face, and as a result, college students were uprooted from their normal lives and moved back home to finish the remainder of the year online.
No senior week.
No graduation, on time at least.
No closure to the college experience many of us have held so dearly over the last four years.
It's taken a while for my thoughts to come together in regards to how I feel about the experience as a whole.
For me personally, high school was not a good time for me and college was like a saving grace kind of moment. I grew into the person I was meant to be and learned how to be the best version of myself. I learned how to be a successful adult in my career field. I learned how to build professional relationships.
I do have some advice to share with incoming college students I'd like to share.
1. Learn sooner rather than later to think for you, not everyone else.
It's so hard to conform your choices and decisions to please other people, even though it may also make you happy. But it's very important to learn and recognize that these years are about you. Friendships and relationships are great to build in college, and I don't want to discourage that, but it's important to put yourself first.
Be yourself, don't conform to the version others want to see in you.
2. Put your academics first, your social life will adjust.
Trust me, the social appeal of college is huge and one that many enjoy. But it's important to remember that staying on top of your school work and taking the time necessary to complete it will benefit you in the long run. There will always be ample social opportunities, but academics are more time sensitive.
3. Nothing has to be permanent.
You don't have to be friends with the same people forever.
You don't have to remain in a major you don't want to work in.
You don't have to join organizations or greek life if you don't want to. And if you do join, you don't have to stay if it is making you unhappy.
You don't have to stay at your original school if you are unhappy there.
College is an unforgettable experience and one that honest and truly made me a better person. I'm sad and disappointed that it ended the way it did, and I'm sure if I didn't have a bonus year for graduate school those emotions would be even more heightened. But either way, class of 2020, you did it - here's to you!