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Alumni Share Lessons After Experiencing College

Alumni Share Lessons After Experiencing College

As the years of high school fly by at an alarming speed, many upperclassmen find it time to begin to think about taking one of the biggest steps to  beginning adulthood — college. Though it can be a stressful time, alumni Erin Stender and Savannah Bullard have sought ways to learn life lessons as they take on their college experience.

Both alumni of the class of 2016 and college sophomores, the girls have conquered freshman year, acquiring valuable knowledge about what the next four years of their life would consist of and how it differed from the high school life they had previously experienced.

“The transition from high school to college was not easy. I called my parents multiple times a day for the first few weeks. I loved the freedom and the control over my life, but not going to college with any close friends often left me very lonely. The classes are only 50 minutes, which is awesome, but the professors do not baby anyone and expect their students to manage their schoolwork like adults,” Bullard said. “After I got the hang of my classes and joined a few organizations, I became much more comfortable.

Not only does college differ in the sense that students have more freedom, but the way schooling has to be approached is different. Studying is essential in college, and if it is not taken seriously, students may see a drastic drop in their grade.

“My approach to studying is so much more intense now. Like, in school before, I studied occasionally for things that I thought would challenge me. In college, it’s the most important skill you can have,” Stender. “ I swear I’ve gone through so many highlighters and it’s only sophomore year. Because of the nature of my classes, I have to be much more conscientious and analytical about what I’m reading and especially about what I’m writing.”

To the girls, college is not only a time to focus on earning your education and furthering yourself in life, but also taking the time to learn who you are as a person. Bullard, who attends the University of Alabama and Stender, who attends Belmont, have both faced the realization that in such massive campuses, they feel smaller and less able to find their voice. Due to this, the college sophomores see this time period as a way to find themselves and realize what they truly want to accomplish not only on campus, but in their lives.

“For me, I went into college totally sure of what I wanted to do. But as I got further involved down that path, it started to stress me out more than was healthy. I had to honestly reassess what I wanted to achieve with my time at Belmont and what I wanted to do with my future. Basically, I threw out the plan I had for three years and started from scratch. Was that terrifying? Absolutely. But that’s also what college is about. It’s about figuring yourself — and your future— out,” Stender said. “ Seniors should keep in mind that college is about figuring yourself out. Don’t be worried if you don’t have it all planned out and don’t be afraid to take chances and evolve your plans. Don’t let people tell you who you are.”

Both girls enjoy the parts of the college experience, such as college sports and events, but they keep in mind the fact that though having fun is important, the most crucial aspect of college is taking care of yourself in every way, whether that be your body or your mind. To truly be successful in their classes, the girls take as good care of themselves as possible as an attempt to make their college experience the best they can on all levels.

“You have to remember to feed yourself, you have to keep up with all the assignments in your classes, you have to try to have fun and have a social life, but you also have to make sure to take care of your mental health. It can be very draining, but not impossible,” Bullard said.

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