The finish line of my undergraduate education is on the horizon and I’m running at it full speed. While my friends start to tear up thinking about graduation, I couldn’t be more excited. I’ll miss the people and my 3:00 naps, but I’m ready to do more than write papers and take exams. College has taught me all that it was supposed to and now I’m ready to take what I’ve learned and attempt to make the world a tad bit of a better place.
Looking back at my last four years at UNC I realize what I’ll take away isn’t what I learned in a class. Yes, it’s great to know media law and the history of pop culture, but my time at UNC taught me lessons that go beyond the classroom walls
- Friends will come and go
I think this was the first and hardest lesson I learned. In high school I had tons of friends. I thought college would be the same and I would make lifelong friends like my parents had. Yet after my first year I realized there’s a big difference between being friends with someone because you genuinely like each other and being friends out of convenience. It’s nice to have a neighbor to always go eat with or a friend in class to study with, but that doesn’t always mean that person is a good friend. There’s a line between friend and friendly. This was a hard lesson to swallow, but arguably the most valuable one I’ll leave with.
2. You never know what might spark a passion
Coming into UNC I had interests that I knew I wanted to pursue. I liked to dance, I enjoyed working with kids and I wanted to major in journalism. Over the past four years I’ve been in seven different campus organizations and only one for the entire four years. But that’s ok. My interests changed over the years as I discovered who I am and who I wanted to be. I realized I liked to dance but I wasn’t that great, and I hated the drama that comes with a company of 200 girls. I still like working with kids, but I found a new organization, Girls on the Run, to volunteer with. My advice is to not be afraid to change paths. Take the class you think might be interesting. Go to an interest meeting or workshop even if it sounds the slightest bit entertaining. You never know how it might change your path.
3. It’s OK to have no idea what you’re doing
At UNC I felt a lot of pressure to have some sort of game plan. You had to pick a major by sophomore year and a concentration in the Jschool by junior year. If I wanted to study abroad I needed to know where I wanted to go. In the advertising track I needed to know if I wanted to be on the account or creative side. It was all very overwhelming.
I consider myself a planner and methodically plan out my weekly schedules, but when it comes to my life I have a hard time making a plan. It took me about until about 2 months ago to accept that not having a plan was OK. I wish someone had told me that from the start.
4. Do what you want to do
Going along with point 2 and 3, do what you want to do. Freshman year it was easy to get caught up in peer pressure and go to parties or organizations that didn’t interest me at all. By senior year I realized a Friday night in by myself could be just as enjoyable as going out. There’s no one thing you need to be doing, besides maybe going to class because you are paying for it after all.
5. Enjoy the little moments
It is so easy to get caught up in schoolwork and internship work and roommate drama. Looking back at the last 4 years I don’t remember the times I studied for a test. I remember going to see President Obama speak, camping out all day at the Dean Dome to be in the risers for the Carolina Duke game and getting to see Michael Jordan. Those are the memories that I’ll take away. In those moments my to do list crept up in my mind, but I had to remind myself that being present was the most important because in less than an hour this moment was going to become a memory, and would likely never happen again. We often take things for granted and enjoy them after the fact. My goal going forward is to be more present in the day to day and to appreciate these special moments.
I wouldn’t trade my last 4 years at UNC for anything. I met great friends and grew as a person. I started to discover my passions and who I think I want to be. I think there’s value in a higher education, but not necessarily for the work you do in a classroom. Living on your own and the opportunities a university like UNC provides, teaches you so much more than a professor can lecture on.
So thanks UNC – it’s been a great 4 years.