SparkNotes Blog

Freshman Year is OVER

Courtney Guth is done with her first year—we can hardly believe it! Time flies! *sniff* —Sparkitors

The essay prompt asked me to describe my personal mantra and how it related it to my everyday life. I sat for a while and pondered. This was my big shot, my chance to wow the admissions officers of my dream school. As I thought, I recalled a cute movie I had recently enjoyed. One of the recurring quotes was “Keep moving forward.” It was perfect, and sure enough, it worked. I managed to obtain acceptance into my top school, and enroll there this past fall. Now fast forward to a year later, a year full of experiences, lessons, dreams, and achievements.

It all finally hit me as I walked out of my last final exam:

I’ve completed my first year of college. It’s an odd feeling honestly. It feels like just yesterday I was only a freshman in high school, awkward, terrible at algebra, and short. No I’m a rising sophomore, still short, still terrible at algebra, but slightly less awkward. Those four years of high school flew by quickly, so I can only imagine how fast the next few will go.

I still have a few hours before I pack my whole life into little boxes and bags and head home for the summer, so I think some reflection is in order. Here’s what I’ve learned this year.

You’ve gotta have fun. Or maybe it’s more accurate to say you need to have balance. Establishing a balance between work and play is essential in the college atmosphere. You’re on your own, so what you do is ultimately up to you. I’ve seen people party their grades away, and I’ve seen others lock themselves in their room with their work out of some fear of socialization. Finding that happy medium is key. I firmly believe schoolwork should come first, but that shouldn’t prevent you from enjoying a weekend with friends. I’ve always made it my goal to get all my work done first, then treat myself to a good time. It’s well worth it in the long run. Keep the smarts but also the sanity. It will all balance out.

I can do it. I’ve surprised myself a lot this past year. Friends have commented, “This is not the Courtney Guth I knew in high school,” and I’m ok with that. Luckily, my good friends are ok with it too. I took risks, went after opportunities, and enjoyed every minute of it. It’s true that you never know what you can do until you try. By taking a chance I landed an internship in my school’s writing center, which has not led to a paid position for next semester and beyond. I also pitched a column idea to Sparknotes, and look at me now—I’m writing it! It’s all because I decided to believe in my capabilities and take chances. College provided the perfect environment for that.

The people who are meant to stay in your life will. One of the most difficult things about going to college is leaving your friends behind. While facebook sure makes it easy to stay in touch with people (or at least creep on their every move), actually maintaining relationships takes an effort. This effort is a two-way street. It’s important to make time to get together with friends and reconnect. Anyone can send a text message; sending a letter, a poster, or a care package means a lot more. Make that extra effort to keep those close to you even closer.

There’s always money in the banana stand: Ok, so maybe I didn’t actually learn this, and I just wanted to make an Arrested Development reference because it’s my new obsession. However, I’m an English Major, so I’m sure I can BS something out of this. Let’s see. Although you may not have an actual banana stand, you do have parents, and they have money. No, just kidding. Though, I did learn that they’ll always be there for me—my parents, not the cast of Arrested Development. (Can I a group “awww”?) Whether I ended up having a nervous breakdown, or somehow manage to escape to another college campus for a weekend without telling them and needed a ride back, they were more than willing to help me out.

Lessons from inside the classroom and out have all been a part of the whirlwind adventure that was my freshman year of college. I know I’ve changed, and I will continue to grow. Now I can only look to the future and anticipate what it will bring. I’ll just remember to keep moving forward.

What have you learned from freshman year, besides how to cram 100 pounds of food into a minifridge?

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