Lessons the degree doesn’t teach you

Briona Kiser / Photo submitted

Commentary by Briona Kiser
Times-News correspondent

   Once senior year hits, life seems to fly by — spring break, a last prom, graduation, senior week and finally, college. Though move-in day is one many countdown to for several months, every freshman who steps foot on campus is petrified when the day comes. There is only so much one can do to prepare for the next few years, but the rest is in the hands of the student.
The No. 1 priority should always be school. The difference between college and high school is monumental. Midnight becomes a reasonable time for dinner, all-nighters are built in to the new sleep schedule, and attending Glo parties hours prior to an 8 a.m. class is common. Students who feel swarmed by siblings and parents are set free into the “real world” and want to run wild. Exploring the new lifestyle is always encouraged, but not at the expense of poor test grades and skipped classes. Full effort should always be made and education must be the goal.
Friends will literally change with the seasons. People change dorms, move off campus, and switch out of classes, but more often than not, that is simply less time around each other rather than a loss of friendship. Be open to anyone around; most universities have thousands of students. Though not everyone will be a best friend, there is no reason not to befriend anyone around. Alternately, do not settle for those who leave a negative impact, as they do not need to be a main part of your life. Again, there are thousands of people to meet; there will be no shortage of friends.
During the first two weeks of classes, most campuses will have tables loaded with free items representing the school and their activities. Take anything offered; they are the only things on campus that will ever be free.
There are no cliques. The judgmental high school days have ended and after the first month or so, what you see is what you get. Others will not conform to fit any type of social norm or to be popular. Everyone will be themselves; have the confidence to do the same.
Goals and growth need to be on a personal level. Every day you will meet five people who have far surpassed all expectations, but you will also meet five who are struggling severely. Do not compare personal growth or perceived failure with those around you, whether in a major or friend group. More than likely, the story outwardly shown is not the entire story.
In the simplest terms: Procrastination can and will cause failure. Make the time sooner to do hard assignments and avoid the stress later.
Every aspect of life at this point is a mess. Sleeping schedules, friend groups, weight issues, assignments, deciding on majors, etc. It is OK to treat yourself with a special dessert or a night off when things get too hard, but be sure to get back on track immediately after.
Yes, you are leaving home, but you will be back. Some students live 20 minutes from their parents, and some, me included, live hundreds of miles away. Wherever home is, you will return, and it will be sweeter than ever once you do.
To all rising freshmen, good luck and Godspeed. Keep your head up and your loved ones close — you will be fine.

 Briona Kiser is a rising sophomore at the University of North Carolina at Charlotte and a Teens & Twenties writer.


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