As you begin your last first week of school, many questions and feelings rush through you. "Have I done enough these past few years?" "Is this really the last time I'll be a student?" "How can I make this final year, the best one yet?" And be prepared for that looming question: "So what are your plans after you graduate?"
Or maybe you are just starting your college experience. A whole new world of opportunity is open to you. Prepare yourself because these next four (or more) years are going to be some of the best.
No matter what year you are, all I can say is to just breathe. As the school year gets underway, some 2018 grads wanted to give you some tips and advice on how to get the most out of these amazing years!
"Going to class and making grades is a given in your 4 years of college but what is not is the experience! Make sure you come out of these 4 years as a better version of yourself than you were before and enjoy every moment you have!"
"My advice for seniors would be to just have fun. Make the most of every day of your senior year because you truly will miss being a student at Florida State. Find things you haven’t done and do them, restaurants you’ve never eaten at and eat there, places you’ve never been to and go there. Also don’t forget to enjoy your favorite places and activities and make a few more memories there also. And definitely do not miss a football game, even the away games if you can make it to them. Anyone can go back and visit Tallahassee as an alum, but nothing matches being there as a student."
"My advice is to join a fun extracurricular activity on campus as a way to make friends!"
“My one piece of advice would be to never take for granted any moment, experience, time with friends etc. We can all get caught up in our day to day tasks/schedules and forget to take in the little things like walking to class on the greatest campus, grabbing a coffee with friends or going to meetings for clubs and organizations because it’s our normal routine. College is truly a time where you make some of the best memories of your life. So enjoy the little things and stay in the moment because time flies and soon enough the greatest four years are over.”
"My one piece of advice for seniors would be to enjoy the journey! Senior year can be overwhelming as this chapter closes while you’re trying to figure out how to start the next one. Enjoy your last football season and homecoming weekend, as well as take advantage of all of your school’s unique traditions. Enjoy time spent with friends, and try your best to enjoy your last few college exams. Senior year flies by and before you blink it will be over. Enjoy it."
"My advice would be: Be sure to take your graduate photos earlier in order get the best time slots (aka Golden hour) and avoid the stress of finals and moving."
“Live authentically and unapologetically.”
“You have a place in this community. Sometimes it takes time to figure out what your purpose is and what your passions are. Sometimes you don’t understand why things happen, but I believe everything happens for a reason and when one door closes another one will open. FSU wouldn’t be FSU without you.”
“Make the most of your time because once you’re gone you’re going to miss it and you want to be able to look back and say you have no regrets!”
“Save as much money as possible for post graduation life.”
“Listen to those who tell you that these four years will go by in the blink of an eye. It’s one thing to hear it, it’s another to truly believe it. I spent my entire life thinking about the four years I would spend at Florida State University and they went by just like that. The days may seem long, especially when you get caught up on your classes and responsibilities. And those aspects of college are so beyond important, but don’t forget to focus on the memories you make and the friendships that will last forever. Those aspects are by far the hardest things to say goodbye to you when your four years are up.”
“It’s okay to not have everything figured out by the time you leave Florida State. A lot of people get caught up in the idea that you have to have a job and start your career right away, but that’s not true. Take time to figure out what it is you really want to do and start making strides to get yourself there. Everything will work itself out, just enjoy where you’re at now!”
“If I could give advice to a graduating senior, I would tell them to cherish every single moment. You only get one opportunity to experience these moments with these people. Take advantage of every second, push yourself out of your comfort zone, and try to find the good in everything - even late nights you spend studying! Although a lot changes after graduation, you’ll always cherish the memories you made with your friends from college who turned into friends for life.”
“My advice is take school and your future career seriously but don't take yourself too seriously.”
“Search for ways that help you feel rejuvenated and never be afraid to ask for help. Independence can be both attractive and destructive, so make sure you take care of yourself!”
“Don’t blink. Before you know it, this chapter in your life will come to a close and you’ll be turning the page to the next. And that next chapter is going to be spectacular, rewarding, and everything you’ve been working towards; but don’t try to skip ahead to it. If you skip ahead, you’re going to miss the best parts of the present. Cherish the friends you’ve made, the life lessons (and academic lessons) you’ve learned, and this priceless gift you’ve been given. The future is scary - and it’s supposed to be. But you’re more than ready. You pulled yourself this far. It’s almost time to dive in, head first, and take yourself out of your comfort zone. It’s the best - and only - way to grow. But enjoy the ride that is your senior year, because there’s nothing quite like it. Don’t worry. You are ready.”
“Senior year is filled with many trials and tribulations. Take time to reflect, connect with friends, and empower yourself to finish out the year stronger than you started. Also, don’t wait to check-in with others. You’ll be surprised to see how many people have been in your corner all this time.”
“When it comes to grad photos, plan ahead to make sure you have champagne and your cap and be open to all ideas because your photographer knows best!” -Ellis
“Life is what you make it. Be adventurous and task risks. Love whatever choices you make and love your life. Nothing is perfect unless you decide it is, so live life to the fullest and help others do the same. You make a difference in everything that you do, so do something. FSU is a place where dreams come true, so reach past the stars and bring others with you. And as always, GO NOLES!”
“Senior year goes by extremely fast, literally in the blink of an eye. So live in the present, don't stress about something that happened in the past and don't overwhelm yourself with the future. Live in the now and enjoy the best year of your life, because after this, you will be forced to enter the real world, and while the real world isn't as scary as it is made out to seem, you will never have another senior year of college."
I didn't realize the emotions that I was going to be putting myself through after gathering all these, but here we are. These college years are some of the best you will ever have. Whether this is your first year or your last, here are my top pieces of advice:
Seek first to understand, then be understood.
One of my friends would give this as advice to all of the incoming freshman when we were Orientation Leaders and it has stuck with me since. Before you try to prove your point, try to see where the other person is coming from first. This leads me into my next tip.
Have an open mind.
College is a time for new experiences and trying new things. Getting to know new and different people goes right along with this. Students come from all over the country and even the world. This is your time to see things through another lens and gain new perspectives. Don't be afraid to start a conversation with someone and truly try to get to know them.
Utilize your resources.
There are so many things to do to better yourself as a person, as a professional, and to just enjoy yourself. Use the gyms, intramural sports, and other recreation to stay active. Use the career centers and job fairs to keep your mind focused on the future and prepared for what's to come post-grad. Use your Resident Assistants and Orientation Leaders. They can help you and have been trained for tons of different situations so don't be afraid to reach out. They want to see everyone succeed and make a difference.
The best way to shrink this huge campus is to find an organization you're passionate about. Do something that relates to your major or something that you just gravitate to. There are literally hundreds of organizations to join and if nothing seems to catch your attention, find out how to make your own and leave your own legacy.
Document as much as you can.
Whether you write in a journal, take photos or videos, or even carve it into stone, find a way that works for you to remember all the memories. A lot happens, especially this last year so be sure to document it.
Remember to call your parents and family.
Even though this is your time to make mistakes and be independent, your family still worries about you. Try to make it a point to reach out to them at least every few days. Even if it's just a text, they will be very appreciative. Don't forget to tell them you love them because you never know how much time you have left with them.
Don't be afraid to step out of your comfort zone.
Some of the best memories I had in college happened because of spontaneous decisions. From late night trips to IHOP to going to random events around campus to just being vulnerable. You don't go to college to be the same person. You go to learn new things and do new things. In fact, I joined an organization on a whim my freshman year and ended up falling in love with it. It has shaped who I am and who I want to be. A simple decision can cause a ripple effect in what you do. I saved this one for last because it applies to just about everything. Speak to that person. Apply to that position. Join that organization. Reach out to others. Just. Do. It.
Like I said, these will be some of your best years. You will definitely face some tough times, but you will come out stronger. You will become a brand new person with all of these experiences. It's where you will meet some of your closest friends, some that feel more like family. Don't let these moments pass you by. Make every day count. I can almost guarantee that once you graduate and see all the students coming back for the next year, you'll miss the "good ole days" because that's how I feel right about now. Whether this is your first year or your last, take it all in.
All photos taken by Mark Young Creative.