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  • Writer's pictureMakenzie Finks

My Advice for College Students

(high school senior photos)

I love college. I love college not because of the parties or getting to make your own decisions for once without your parents telling you what is right or wrong (don't get me wrong that is fun too) but I love college because of who you become, the path it takes to get there, and the future you now have after 4 crazy, fun-filled years. 

Honestly, I love college so much I went on to get my Masters Degree in Higher Education Administration. I loved it so much I wanted to build my career in it. #SAPROforLIFE✌️

During one of my College Student Development classes we were asked to write a letter to our freshman year selves telling us advice and things we wished we would have known going into it. I thought it was an incredible assignment because it made me think about my younger sister and how I wished I could help her out so that she did everything I didn't get to do. 

Now, looking back this is a good and bad thing. I still will share my advice for college students but I also realized that, the reason I loved college so much was because I DID make mistakes. I did have a few regrets on things I did or didn't do and I did have to work through those to become who I am and where I am today. 

THAT is what makes college amazing. THAT is the best advice anyone could give. Just be yourself, make those decisions and know that you already have it inside of you to build the best path for your OWN life. I love college so much because there is limitless possibilities to find your true self. It doesn't come from following the typical path but from following your path. Ya get me? 

But like any normal person I still would like to give you all my thoughts on what I think would have made my experience a little better and pushed me a little harder if I wasn't so afraid of the risks. 

(freshman year at Millikin University volleyball team)

Learn to live for yourself. As I quickly mentioned above, college is the place for you to forget about what others say or think and worry about what you think. This is the perfect place to discover what you actually think. I mean if you think about it, when you are young your thoughts are made based on what your parents think and then that continues on with what your friends think or your teacher thinks, but have you ever really decided you believed something on your own? This was a weird feeling for me when a professor posed the same question for myself. Have I ever believed in something because I truly thought it was so, or because I was always told it was so. This is the time to live for yourself, be yourself, and find yourself. 

(freshman year bid day) 

Don't compare yourself to others.This one was super hard for me. I came from a smaller school where I excelled at most things I tried. I quickly learned that everyone at college were the students that excelled at most things. This left me feeling like I wasn't good enough. Not a good enough volleyball player, not a good enough singer, not a good enough student. This KILLED my self esteem, and honestly I don't know if I am even over it yet (but I am working on it). I wish I would have understood that just because someone else is exceptional at something doesn't mean I am not either. We all can be great. Learn this. Learn that you are enough. You are everything you want to be and more because know one can tell you otherwise. It is your decision to be who you want to be. 

(sophomore year bid day with my little sis)

Take risks.This goes along with the aforementioned one a little because if you think you aren't enough you won't always take risks. In college, I was in a choir but I never ever ever wanted to audition for a solo (even though I had like every solo in high school) because I didn't think I was good enough. THAT WAS STUPID. I wish I would have taken the risk of maybe not getting it to know that I was just as good as the other students. I also wanted to study abroad but was worried about money (which is a logical fear) but now I understand that the experiences and relationships I would have made actually studying abroad would have been priceless. If you think an internship sounds interesting APPLY! If you see someone that needs a friend, reach out and cultivate new friendships. They will be the most important thing. Sometimes you just have to take the plunge no matter how terrified you are because the payout is better and will make you stronger. 

(senior year bid day with some of my pledge class)

Get involved in something.This can be ANYTHING that you are interested in. Whether it is sports, Greek Life, musicals, student government, literally it can be any or all, but just do it. At college you can sometimes get lost because you know depending on where you go there can be anywhere from 3,000 to 40,000 students there all at once. Getting involved gives you community. It gives you support and opportunities. I joined a sorority in college and that is what led me to my new career path in Student Affairs. Without my sorority I wouldn't have had leadership opportunities, I wouldn't have learned what being a leader really was, I wouldn't have had internships in the Greek Life office or attended conferences. My sorority was gold for my development in college. Trust me when I say you need something to make you work, that you are passionate about, and that will pour love back into you while you are pouring love into it. 

Learn to let go and have fun.I am not saying become a crazy partier by any means, but at times throughout my years of college I became very focused on school and extracurricular activities and jobs that I think I forgot to just be me. I stayed in a lot which is cool because that is who I am and just my personality but I wish I had more of those crazy, silly nights with my friends. Those are times I will never get back and being with my friends and laughing our asses off is some of my favorite memories! So, learn to balance work and play. Make time for those experiences because they are just as important as the school work in developing who you are as a person. 

So, that is what I would tell my 18 year old college bound self if I could. I wouldn't change the decisions I made but I would have believed in and supported myself a little more. I now know, that discovering who you are and the differences you want to make on this world are what is really important while at college. If you take away nothing else, take away that. You are amazing, kind, strong and independent. You will kick colleges monkey butt. 🐒

Alright, getting a little weird there. I think it is time for me to sign off. And with that, much love to you all! 



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