This past semester at Baldwin Wallace, I have learned so many things about myself and have become so much more independent than I was in high school. I have grown in many of the ways most people will say: I have learned to manage my own money, manage my time, set my own sleep schedules, and meet new people. However, I have grown the most in learning how to take advantage of every opportunity given.
The first thing I would want a student in the next graduating class to understand is that there is no excuse to not put effort into their dreams. The most significant mistake I ever made when choosing to begin college was allowing my choice of major to be dictated by fear; due to my immense (and bordering on irrational) fear of rejection, I refused to audition for the major I truly wanted to pursue, which was Voice Performance. Instead, I tried to remove the thought from my mind, and trained myself to believe I wanted to study Criminal Justice. However, I went into the major knowing that I did not plan on working in law enforcement, and much to my surprise, I gradually became unhappy working towards a degree I didn’t really want. I ended up in a major that I was not interested in solely because I was afraid of being told “no.” At the end of the day, if I had auditioned, even if I had been rejected, at least I could have known if I had a chance. Therefore, I would tell someone younger than me: you should always strive for the best. Never, ever let fear hinder that goal.
On a similar note, I would also say that there is no shame in changing a major. I have only been here for one semester, yet I have already changed my major to Early Childhood Education. I am unsure if I will continue in the concentration for the rest of my years here (I am also registered for some music classes that could help me transfer into Music Therapy), but I know that I will be much happier in it. The first thing I considered when I thought about changing my major was: what did I dream about as a child? This led me to the idea of becoming a teacher. Ultimately, I believe that this is a good method in determining which major to pursue, as our childhood dreams often reflect our true personalities.
Furthermore, the college years are the best time to truly look within oneself and find their true personality. I am attempting to get involved in most of the school’s departments—BW Singers in the Conservatory, recreational activities in Lou Higgins, perhaps a few foreign language clubs—it is important to understand that as a student here, you are already paying for many of these services. So, why not take advantage of them? I know that if I had never joined BW Singers or had been required to participate in FYE, I likely would have had only two friends.
To further emphasize that point, try not to lock yourself in your dorm room after classes each day. I do that quite frequently, and I am trying to work on getting out more often. Not only does it help socially, but it helps to study in multiple different locations instead of sitting in the same spot for hours at a time.
Most importantly, don’t forget to cherish these next four years of your life. Take pictures, keep journals, stay on top of your studies, study abroad if you can; you’ll never be able to experience life the way it is right now ever again, so be sure that you are making the best decisions possible to ensure that you do not end up with too many regrets. These next four years are what you put into them, so make sure to make them the best they can possibly be.
Lastly, do not be afraid of change. College will change you in ways you didn’t know were possible, and while it may seem scary at first, you will become a better person for it.