Advice to the Class of 2023

 Dear incoming freshman,

Welcome to EMU! College is a great time in your life and should be treated as such. Having just left the comforts of home and all it provides, college can be challenging, even scary at times. But college is also a once in a lifetime opportunity - enjoy it.

My experiences with college are different from some. Starting just after high school graduation, I wasn’t sure what I really wanted to do and floundered the opportunity. In the first two years, I went to three schools and switched my major twice. After landing in the Public Relations Department at EMU, I finally felt in my place. It led to an internship and other opportunities outside of school arose. I took for granted my education, placed it on the back burner and ultimately took time off. In those years, I grew out of my life choices, got married and had children. Now, I’m a 30 something with two toddlers and thought, “sure, this seems like a good time to finish my degree.” This decision has brought on a new set of challenges and a foresight that offers valuable advice. Therefore, I’m taking this opportunity, as I enter my final semester of undergrad, to impart some knowledge on the four lessons I find most valuable.

You go to college to meet your bridesmaids, not your husband. Truth be told, I met my husband while we were both in college. But the friendships I nourished in school have been the most valuable to date. When you arrive at EMU, you’ll meet a lot of new people. Roommates, teammates, classmates alike, are all experiencing this new chapter of life along with you. The bond forged through this experience will be stronger because of it. You’ll also meet many like-minded people in your department who will be comforting. Just as much as you will meet those who challenge your beliefs and broaden your horizons. Ultimately, the network you create here will help through these years and into the challenging transition of starting a career.

Go to a football game. This advice universally applies to school plays, Greek life, homecoming. Get involved. Having been involved in the social aspect of school from the beginning, it offers a lot of opportunities to help acclimate you to your new life. Finding a group also offers a sense of community, expands your knowledge, and gives you a sense of pride in your time at EMU. Coming to the end, I appreciate that these groups have been a foundation for my time here. What is so wonderful about EMU is that there is something extracurricular for everyone. The Campus Life office is established to help student’s development and involvement through activities that meet a variety of interests and needs.

Appreciate your freedom and respect the responsibility. This is something I truly wish someone had explained when I was 19. It seems simple enough, in college you have the new-found freedom to decide where you want to go, how late to stay out, etc. So, you’re an adult now, right? No. Most students I’ve met have some security. For me, my parents paid my tuition, mentors carved out extra time, classmates offered up old text books, the cafeteria prepared my meals, friends helped furnish my apartment with hand-me-downs. These were all safety nets that when you’re an adult, you are responsible for. In hindsight, it seems obvious but, in the moment, I was just happy to be relieved of doing obligatory chores. Being an adult isn’t something a freshman is prepared for, that’s what these college years are for. However, I believe appreciating what is on the other side of these four years will make them even more significant.

Take some me time. I say this for two reasons. First, “me time” will slowly lose its priority through the years but doesn’t make itself any less valuable. Second, the balance of freedom with a safety net is only offered once in your life, now. You can afford to challenge yourself, learn the hard way, and try anything that comes your way with less of an impact of consequences than you would as an adult. These are the best circumstances to find out who you are as a person and what you want out of life. Embrace it. More than anything about college, this is something I wish I had done more of.

As freshman, you are about to embark on a journey that will affect the trajectory of your life. Be excited that you’re experiencing it at Eastern Michigan University. This school offers so much to its students both academically but also for personal growth. As I reflect on my time here, I am so thankful for the experiences I’ve received and the supportive faculty and community on campus. Best of luck to you, class of 2023!   

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