Goals can’t be defined in a dictionary

| Associate Editor

Welcome to college and to the pages of Student Life, where we hope to find you often. There will be no shortage of friends and relatives offering you advice in the coming months, but these columns provide advice from those of us still immersed in college life. So set some goals for yourself, and remember to keep everything in perspective.

With tons of AP credits, or even with none, work your schedule to take some courses just for fun. Every semester, take a course that seems interesting or beneficial, even if it doesn’t count toward three different requirements. Try a career-enhancing class like public speaking, or even a muscle-enhancing class like weight training.

One semester, take 12 credits and then take a language pass/fail, if you’ve always been interested in another language. You’ll get more than 15 credits for the semester, have only 4 graded classes, and learn another language!

More importantly than taking these suggestions, however, is finding an arrangement that works best for you. Be adaptable; just because you’ve never dropped a class in high school doesn’t mean that you cannot, will not or should not drop a classes here. Just keep your eyes, ears and course book open for alternatives.

Find a club or two that interests you, and devote time to that. Some people can be in 40 different organizations and manage quite fine, but to explore all that clubs have to offer, and to advance through the leadership ranks, requires commitment. In high school, it was easy to be involved in 40 different activities, since they mostly met during defined hours of the school day. In college, days are defined from when you wake up to when, and if, you go to bed. In between, the time spent in class, doing work, or being involved is all at your discretion. Discern wisely and don’t be afraid to re-prioritize. This may be the first time you’ll get over-involved or in over your head with stuff to do. Realize if that’s happening and adjust your schedule/activities/amount of time spent sleeping accordingly.

Take advantage of the opportunities here. You’ll hear a lot about opportunities in the coming months, and that’s because there is no shortage of them at Wash. U., and not just academically. I won’t explicitly encourage you to cut class to attend an assembly series speech or other interesting event, but take a step back occasionally and evaluate the big picture. A failed quiz, or even a B in a class, will not ruin your future.

Don’t feel the need to do everything first semester. Of course, pursue your passions from the start, but I’m sure you will find that many upperclassmen are not best friends with their best friends from first semester, and a lot are involved in a completely different set of activities than at first. That’s fine, as long as you’re doing what you love.

Aim to achieve what you accomplish. Personally, I came to college to expand my circle of friends and develop a social life. And I tried harder on that front than on the academic front. Now, I’m still graduating on time, and with friends! My goals are accomplished. Now go define, and accomplish yours!

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