Graduating college is the best thing that has ever happened to me, and it hasn’t even happened to me yet. The years that consisted of the unknown– the gap years of travel, the A-’s and the C+’s, the goods and the bads, the highs and the lows, the poor and the rich, the 10 page papers, and the German pop quizzes.. All of that glory is leading up to this exact moment. The moment where I throw my cap up into the air and say, “I made it, finally!”

People always tell you that college is where you not only learn about textbooks and worldly statistics, you also learn about yourself. I didn’t believe that to be true my first two years, but I believe it to be true now.

The last two years of my life has changed me, shaped me, and molded me into the person I only dreamed I could be. I hold my chin higher now, I take larger strides, and I think before I speak (well, I try to do that). The thing is, I have found myself. And I know that may sound stereotypical, but college is everything those corny rom-com movies say it is.

So here are four things that make you a better person in college:

  1. Your people. You find out quickly in college that you have to be selective with whom you surround yourself with. You may have a million acquaintances, but there are only a handful of people you want holding your hair back when you drink too much wine at wine wednesday. These are the people that make you want to do better because everyday they are making the efforts to make themselves better. They host study sessions, they bake muffins on Bachelor night and make you sick baskets when you’re under the weather, they throw political parties and make you ‘dance it out’ between study sessions. If your friends don’t challenge you, don’t be friends with them. You should be growing during this time and the people you surround yourself with says a lot about you. So thank you, friends. My heart is fuller because I have known you, and parting is such sweet sorrow.
  2. Your Professors and Faculty members. Enough cannot be said about the importance of these superheroes and how your relationships with them could make or break your college experience, and possibly even your life after. The best ways to get to know them is to show up to class everyday (I know it’s such a pain to use the classes you paid for), sit up front, ask questions, use their office hours, and inquire on their research. Make them notice you and take part in extracurricular activities. I have learned so much from some of the most interesting people from all over the world here at college, and when these people take note of you, you are set. They will not just help you through college but they will make sure to help you after. So, word of advice, don’t burn your bridges and be the teacher’s pet. Do it. Trust me.
  3. Financial strain. And I know you might be thinking, how the hell does this make you better? Finance is something almost every college student deals with, and it sucks. Trying to figure out how to pay your student bill, electricity bill, water bill, textbooks, parking passes, parking tickets, etc. Finance kept me up numerous nights throughout my college career and although I would not want to live through it again, it taught me something. There were many days I thought “This is it, this is the day I can’t afford my education anymore.” But every time, I was proven wrong. You will figure out a way. Through hell or high water, that education was going to continue, even if you had to cry your way to the Financial Aid Office. This point leads me to point 4:
  4. Your family. This is an obvious answer, but it has to be stated. Your family is your rock. So here’s my shout-out to you, Mom. This journey would not have been possible without your help and your shoulder to cry on. Here’s to those late night phone calls when I knew you were asleep, but you answered the phone anyways. Here’s to those rants you had to listen to after I got out of a class and I had learned so much I just had to tell you right then and there. Here’s to the financial strain you helped me carry and for the love you have shown me. You have motivated me to do my best, but have helped me understand failure. Sometimes life gets you down, but if you look up, there is always a hand to help you back onto your feet. I could go on and on, but you know how much I appreciate you. This degree would not have been possible without you and I wish they could add your name beside mine.

College is not easy and it is not hard. If you work diligently, surround yourself with the right people, and let love envelope you, there is always a way. I didn’t always succeed and that’s important to realize. I am human and I make mistakes. But on August 5th I will walk across that stage and the people I love will be there to support me, hug me, and wish me well on my next journey in life. I will thank them, love them, celebrate them, and then move forward onto my next journey; taking with me the lessons I have learned and tucking them safely into my pocket, knowing that the lessons of college were only the beginning steps into the lessons of life.


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