Expectations. That was the theme of the student convocation address that welcomed most of us to college. In the past four years, whether our expectations were primarily to find friends, succeed academically or become student leaders (or all of the above), something unexpected happened. We grew up.
As entering freshmen, we all felt like the adults we almost were. But somewhere between 2 a.m. trips to Bear’s Den, floor brunches and cooking meals in our apartments, we matured. When work got harder, we worked harder but also worked more efficiently as we gained familiarity with this academic setting. When our freshman floors disintegrated (some quite literally), we maintained the bonds of friendship we forged. And we didn’t plan for these actions, nor did we necessarily realize we were doing them at the time. But whether we knew it or not, the wheels of transformation were affecting even the most focused among us.
Looking back at our initial expectations of college, are we happy with what we see? I personally regret nothing from my college career; if I could do it over, I would not change a thing. Hopefully, we all have such sentiments, but if not, go out into the world with a renewed resolve to make the most of every day. While there’s no Tuesday Tea at 3 or an “appeals fund” in schools and offices across the country, there are always opportunities to get involved and pursue your passions. Although we tend to take our work and studies seriously, take a step back occasionally to evaluate your goals and make sure you’re happy with where you are heading. And if not, do something to change it.
Your expectations should be your own. From our convocation speaker to Dr. Seuss, everyone acknowledges that “YOU are the one who’ll decide where to go.” Whether pursuing your passions involves number crunching, caring for animals or people, or continuing on to academia, do it because you love it.
This same message applies to our underclassmen friends we’re leaving behind. Make sure your expectations are fulfilled, or go out and fulfill them. If you expected a great education, don’t sit idly by as the best teaching professors continue to get replaced by research machines. Instead of asking for re-grades, ask how to improve for the next exam. If you’ve spent the last year or two in the library, go play a game at Ursa’s. Conversely, if you’ve spent the last year or two playing games (of any sort), a day in the library might do you some good. Enjoy your time here—it’s a beautiful campus filled with friendly, smart people, so take the plugs out of your ears and look up from your cell phones from time to time.
Whether you’re moving into the workforce, graduate school or the new dorms on the 40, remember to set goals and occasionally evaluate them. Be focused on what you want to achieve, but also be flexible. Keep everything in perspective, and try not to prioritize work above friends or advancement over being honest.
And remember to acknowledge the people who make a difference in your life. So thank you to my friends, parents and all the Student Life readers and staff!
Brian can be reached via e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org.