College

It’s been about four years since high school graduation, and I’m still not ready for adulthood. At the same time, I think this is a good moment to reflect about what I learned in the past few years. I’ve had the chance to meet a lot of people, learn a lot about myself, and learn a lot about the world.

One of the most amazing things I learned about college is how open-minded it can be, if you go to the right school. Luckily, I went to a very liberal school in a very liberal city, so I was exposed to many types of thoughts, as well as people who expressed themselves freely. I hear from old classmates about how clique­like some colleges can be, but I can’t imagine being in that type of place. People come and go. Those from high school don’t always stay, and those in college don’t always stay either. But this is only college. Imagine how much bigger it gets from here.

This might sound kind of sad, but I also learned about a lot of the bad things about myself. I learned how ignorant and intolerant I was, and I’m still learning – and trying to accept – that I’m not as kind or as good as I would like to think. In college, I met all sorts of personalities and I learned to understand the psychology behind these people (at least, as much as I can as a 21 year old). A big part of college is finding out what you don’t like about yourself, and having to make a big decision as to what to do about it. Do you accept it? Do you change it? Do you hide it? Some people embrace what society sees as bad, and some people try to change themselves to be what this world calls good. College forces you to make hard decisions because you’re finally responsible for yourself. Go out tonight or study? Buy groceries or do the laundry? Become good friends with a few people, or friendly associates with a lot of people? Nobody else is responsible for you. That can be a scary but refreshing realization.

A large part of my school is being aware of the social issues happening in the world. Immigration, racial conflict, religious conflict, economic disparities, just to name a few. Not only did college force me to be more aware of the world, it forced me to have an opinion. It also taught me to be tolerant of others. Where do I stand in the world? What am I doing for the world? What do I want to do for the world? What can I do? Does any of that even matter? Why? I don’t know the answers and I’m not sure I will for a long time, but at the very least I was able to develop a perspective of how paradoxically big and small I am, and not only on campus but in the world. It scares me a little, but Freshman year of college scared me too, so I think it is okay to be a little scared.

As a senior in college, I’m almost a responsible adult. At least, I’d like to tell myself that. While I’ve come far since my high school days, there is still much for me to learn. At least I got the chance to learn this much, and for that I am grateful.

Image: Picography

CollegeSkills

The question that will (almost) always be asked when someone finds out that you will be attending college is “What’s your major?” It will be asked during school. It will be asked when you are home for the holidays. It will be asked after graduation. Why is it so important anyway? Well, knowing a person’s major can give a general outlook on their plans for life after graduation. It doesn’t always apply (just because you’re an Art History major doesn’t mean you’ll be working in a museum for the rest of your life). Choosing a major can be extremely stressful. For one it can determine what school you attend (research vs. liberal arts vs. technical). Secondly, most schools require an official declaration by the end of your sophomore year. Here are a few tips to making this difficult decision:

1. Don’t Declare a Major Prior to Actually Attending Classes 

This can be difficult for those of us that are extremely passionate about a specific subject. I decided I would be a music major the summer before I started high school and I stuck with that…up until it was time to register for my semester of college. I heeded the advice of my elders and took classes from different areas and I ended up choosing to be a communications major. And I’m so happy with my decision. You might still love your original major or you may discover a new passion. Try it all.

2. Don’t Be Afraid to Change Your Mind 

Even if you do declare a major early on and end up hating it, it’s okay! You can always to something. Of course, if you do this later on in your academic career it may be readjusting your expected graduation date. But it’s better to take classes in something you enjoy than to sit through a miserable lecture.

3. Career Path is Not Everything 

 I have met so many students that are majoring in something only for the sake of having a steady job after graduation. There are articles published nearly every day about the current job market and what it would wise to major in but guess what? These change! It’s not possible to predict what will be happening 10 years from now so pick what you like.

4. Find Out the Requirements for Your Major of Choice 

Be diverse with the 101 classes you take. Towards the end of my sophomore year, a close friend of mine decided she wanted to major in one of the sciences. So what was the problem? That major required a certain amount of pre-requisites that would’ve had to been taken during the first two years of school. Taking a broader range of introductory classes during her first two years could have saved her a lot of time later down the road.

5. Take Advantage of Your Counselors 

They’re there to help after all! I never would have considered being a communications major if it were not for my counselor. She told me more about it and after listening to her advice I realized it was the best fit for me. Counselors will look at the classes you have taken and realize your particular strengths/weaknesses and help you assess your options.

Image: Lime Lane Photography

CultureEducation

Now that fall and winter have passed, it’s time for a spring cleaning! That means our bookshelves are getting a makeover. There are lots of great books coming out this spring, and we can’t wait to dive in! The hardest question is which one to read first. This spring we are looking for some inspiring reads that will motivate us and help carry us through to summer, where there is no homework, exciting travel plans, more time to volunteer, and when senioritis is relieved. These are the books we are reading this spring…

1. The Promise of a Pencil by Adam Braun

Do you dream of starting your own non-profit? Do you want to help others in the world? How about just be inspired to find your calling? Adam Braun shares his personal experience of how he started Pencils of Promise in this bestseller. Braun shares his lessons learned along the way so that you, too, can follow your passion and make a difference. P.S. Read our interview with Adam here!

2. I Am That Girl: How to Speak Your Truth, Discover Your Purpose, and #bethatgirl by Alexis Jones

What’s your passion or purpose in this world? Alexis Jones inspires people to dream bigger and leave the world a better place. You are good enough and you don’t need to be perfect, whatever ‘perfect’ means. We’re excited to be empowered!

3. I Just Graduated…Now What? by Katherine Schwarzenegger

Are you graduating or did you just graduate? Are you tired of being asked what you want to do with the rest of your life? Katherine Schwarzenegger interviews awesome people about how they felt when they had just graduated from college. This should be an inspiring read.

4. The Outsiders by S.E. Hinton

This 1967 coming-of-age classic is a great novel to re-read several times, and it tells the story of two rival groups – the Greasers and the Socs. S.E. Hinton started writing the novel when she was just fifteen-years-old, and the final book was published when she was eighteen. Pretty incredible. Having read this book in high school, it will be a nice refresher to re-read and get lost in the world of Ponyboy Curtis.

5. Zen and the Art of Happiness by Chris Prentiss

Change the way you look at situations so that you can see them in a positive light. This book should be a breeze to get through, while being powerful and life changing at the same time.

What’s on your bookshelf this spring?