Listening to your elders has always been a wise course of action. Listening to your fellow college students is no different.
To take advice from seniors with plenty of credit hours under their belts could make your time at Eastern Michigan University all the better for taking their word for it.
“Students about to graduate should cherish the time they have before ‘the real world’ kicks in,” said Alex Baauw, a mechanical engineering technology senior.
“You should spend time with the friends you want to keep but might not if you don’t spend time with them now. Be sure to attend campus events that you are interested in while you still can and simply get more involved; whether it be something as simple as joining an organization or just attending a lot of programs and events on campus.”
For seniors like Baauw, the closing of one’s college career through graduation is a momentous step. Whether the steps following lead to grad school, “the real world” or down some other path, these steps are just as important.
But it didn’t always feel that way as freshmen.
“Thinking back to when I was a freshman, I always thought things would get easier when I became a senior, but it
doesn’t,” journalism senior Jennifer Niswender said. “I still have loads of homework and sleepless nights.”
It’s common for students who reach higher levels of seniority to feel stressed; seniors deal with a more intense course load, greater responsibilities for preparing to graduate and planning for what comes next.
But students shouldn’t let the stress get them down. By keeping a level head and taking challenges and opportunities as they come, rewarding experiences can form outside the classroom and in the workplace.
“Students should apply for an on-campus job, such as night watch or office assistant if they live on-campus, right away,” communications senior Allison Gallardo said.
“This is a great opportunity to get to know others and could also be good experience for future jobs or positions later in college. I would also suggest to on-campus students look into becoming a resident adviser. This is a
great opportunity to get involved on campus and to be a resource for other students on campus.
“Coming to EMU as a transfer student, I got a job as an office assistant in Buell Hall and I helped take pictures and update their Facebook and Twitter page. This was a great experience for me because I got to know the residents in the building and the staff, who recommended me to become a resident adviser. I have been a resident adviser for about two years now and I love it because I get to be a resource to residents and I get to meet a lot of people compared to not knowing anyone at all when I transferred here.”
Though some might not think they’re cut out to be a resident adviser, there are other options to get involved at EMU. Such opportunities present themselves on campus through campus clubs or even by just living on-campus itself.
For Niswender, living on-campus gave her a tight-knit community of friendship and support. She considered it to be a part of the full college experience.
“I would suggest in order for everyone to have the full college experience is to live on campus for at least one year,” she said. “Everyone should be able to experience the ‘dorm life’ at least once. You can make some of your best friends that way. Getting involved is also a great way, such as playing a sport or joining a club that interest you.”
It’s important to have fun with such friendships and live the college lifestyle but it’s just as important to keep the bigger picture in perspective. It can’t all be fun and games or one might graduate with a diploma without clear plans on what to do with it.
“I think the most important thing would be to look into grad schools if that’s where you plan on going,” Baauw said. “It’s also important to have your eyes open on the job market and apply for jobs or internships related to your fields of study.”
As for job seeking, Niswender said, “It’s important that you start job searching early. It’s never too early to start. Make sure you use the University Advising and Career Development Center too because that’s what they’re here for. Also be sure to attend job fairs and conferences being held on campus and get involved; the more things on your resume, the better it will look.”
Though there is obvious value in keeping one’s eyes on the prize, to do so without making some memories along the way would be a waste of this priceless time of life: the college years.
“One of my favorite memories would have to be my first year at EMU working for my supervisor Kirk Howard,” Gallardo said. “He was such a great boss and a great friend. I will never forget how bad I was at interviewing and Kirk helped me get through my fear of interviews. He also helped me with networking and was the reason why I became a resident adviser, which worked out great for me.”
Some students might wish their college years could last longer, if not forever, but the time comes for a student to cross the stage at the EMU Convocation Center and finally graduate. There will be tears of sadness and tears of joy but every student will have memories of the ups and downs of higher education.
“I’m really going to miss everyone I know and have become close with,” criminology senior Stacy Daniels said. “I really have enjoyed working on-campus and getting to know everybody in my residence hall and at work. I’m going to really miss all the close friendships I’ve made in Pittman Hall. I’m also going to miss the familiarity of everything because I’ve been here for three years.”
Gallardo said, “I will miss the EMU housing staff community the most when I leave here. Everyone here is so amazing and friendly. They are my second family. I will also miss having Flex and being able to get Starbucks whenever I wanted.”
From forming second families with staff members to friendships with other students and faculty, the list could go on of what each student will miss. Even the little things and everyday occurrences college students take for granted daily will make these years more memorable. When it’s all put together, the final product is bound to be a powerful source of pride, accomplishment, nostalgia and happiness.
“I’m going to miss my friends and living on campus,” Niswender said. “I feel like if I didn’t live on campus, I would not have met the people I have, people who have influenced me — and now that it’s time to enter the real world — that I’m not going to be able to see every day. No more all nighters in the library, no more bad campus food, no more rolling out of bed and going to class 15 minutes before the class starts. EMU has made me who I am today and I am thankful for that.”