I don’t like goodbyes. In fact, I almost never say them. I either use non-committal phrases like “see you later” and “have a good summer” or make a joke out of it by saying “nice knowing you.” Even though my time in college (or at least undergrad) is coming to an end, it doesn’t yet feel like it, but maybe that’s just because I still have a ton of stuff to do before I
adios out of here.
Nevertheless, I am leaving, and I refuse to admit it. So instead of reminiscing about my time here, I thought I’d share some parting words with the new and current Buckeyes. These are the top 5 things I’ve learned throughout my time at Ohio State, and if you know them now they’ll make your time here easier (and hopefully reduce your stress).
How I feel about graduating
1. It is okay to not know what you want to do when you come in. It’s funny, in high school I wasn’t really asked what I wanted to study in college in specific terms. People only asked me what field I wanted to go into, such as business or engineering. So I was unprepared when I was asked to select a major on the admissions application and then declare one on campus. Once I chose a major, I was prepared to stick with it.
What I realize now, however, is that it is completely okay to not be 100 percent sure what you want to do in your first year. In fact, I switched my major after I finished my general education courses and took one major course, realizing that the field I chose was definitely not for me. I bounced around a bit during my first and second years, even switching between Ohio State colleges. It wasn’t until late second year that I truly came upon a major I loved (and still love), and lo and behold I’m still graduating on time.
If you know what you want to do, great! Stick with your passion. If you don’t know what you want to do, it’s okay! Explore the different offerings at OSU. Take your time to decide. Choose a field you really love. Find your passion. If you don’t like what you’re doing, why commit your life to it?
2. Not every experience or opportunity is for everyone. The great thing about Ohio State is that there is a seemingly-endless variety of things to do both on and off campus. Study abroad and leadership opportunities, volunteer events, student organization activities, honor society offerings, and research openings are only a fraction of the rewarding opportunities offered. In fact, it can be overwhelming and if you’re like me you’ll feel pressured to do everything. In fact, that is what I tried to do my first year. In high school, it was manageable to be involved with multiple activities because most of them took place within the school itself. In college, however, it is better to choose quality over quantity.
Choosing meaningful activities that help develop some aspect of your life, such as your leadership or language skills, is more valuable than joining a variety of organizations just to be able to add them to your resume. Get involved, but make sure it’s something you actually want to do and feel that you can contribute to. You don’t have to do everything, and if you think you’re not doing enough just remember that everyone feels that way at one point or another.
3. Don’t be intimidated by your peers. As a underclassman, I always found myself admiring the upperclassman leaders I would see around my college or on campus. “Man, they truly are outstanding” I would think. Everyone seemed so put-together, brilliant, and involved. There are just some people you look at and think that you can never possibly reach their level. Well, as I myself became an upperclassman I increasingly began filling leadership roles both within the classroom and in my extracurricular activities. It all felt like a natural transition after being involved in some activities for a few years.
Imagine my surprise this year as a senior when first-year students started coming up to me saying things like “you don’t know me but I know you, could we meet sometime so I can ask you about your college experience?” My first reaction was “HUH?” Suddenly I had people telling me that they admire how “put-together” and “involved” I seemed, the very same things I had thought about my own upperclassman. I then realized that everyone is convinced that other people, their peers, are all so much more impressive than them. My own experience should tell you, this is not the case! Not saying that I’m not involved and in leadership positions, but I do not consider myself the shining beacon of a “model student” and I now realize that the people I admired probably didn’t either. The experiences people have are different, and it is impossible to standardize the value.
If you are feeling intimidated by your peers and how qualified they are, don’t worry because chances are they are equally intimidated by their peers (including you). Your peers and their accomplishments should encourage and motivate you, not stress you out or depress you. Look back at what you have accomplished and forward at what you can accomplish and know that you’re plenty impressive in your own right.
4. Develop your public speaking skills. I think most people don’t enjoy public speaking. At least, it’s the #1 self-professed weakness I hear from people. The thing is, people consider themselves “bad” at public speaking if they get nervous beforehand. It is completely normal to be nervous. Let me stress this again: it is completely normal to be nervous! The fact that you’re nervous means that you want to do well, which is a good thing. It means you care. Also, people usually cannot tell if you’re nervous so do not explicitly point out that you’re nervous before or during a speech or presentation!
I always get nervous when speaking in front of a large group of people but I never point it out, and people tell me that I “have strong presentation skills.” There’s been multiple times when classmates would give a presentation and I would have no idea they were nervous until they said so. Telling people or apologizing diverts attention from the actual content of the speech/presentation and causes them to focus on your “quirks.” This is not a good thing because now they’re just looking for you to mess up. Do not give them the opportunity to pick you apart. As cliché as it sounds, you have to fake it until you make it. You will never not need public speaking skills, so as painful or unpleasant as it seems take the time to develop them now when you’re among your friends and peers.
5. Appreciate your time as an undergraduate student. I actually don’t think I did this enough. Whenever I walked around on campus my eyes glazed over and I always felt like I was seeing deadlines and assignments hovering in front of them as opposed to the actual scenery. There has been a few times when I’ve been walking across the Oval and then suddenly “opened my eyes” to how nice the weather was or the different activities taking place.
Assignments, projects, exams, case studies, and deadlines will pass. After every semester, they’ll start to blur together. You probably won’t remember everything about a specific paper you wrote two years ago, but you’ll remember the nice breeze blowing across Oval beach late in the spring. Not saying that assignments and academics are not important (they definitely are), but you never really know what you have until it’s gone. Appreciate your time as a student. I can guarantee that you’ll miss it, even if you don’t feel that way now.
This is not goodbye. In fact, I don’t think OSU would even let me leave completely if I wanted to; not with all the alumni events constantly taking place. Once a Buckeye, always a Buckeye, even if my time as a current student is limited. I hope this information is useful to both new and current students.
Don’t worry, almost everything about academics, involvement, and professional opportunities can always be learned on the fly. Your peers are your resources. The faculty, staff, and administration are here to help and they want to help. I’m now going to end with the same statement I was told as a senior in high school, which still applies here: things are going to work out, whether that be college admissions, passing classes, getting a job, or graduating. Just make sure to take time to enjoy the ride.