Having spent four years at Oklahoma State University, I have a few stats under my belt: 118 credit hours, 10+ campus organizations, 3.9 overall GPA, 3 trips abroad (British Isles, Costa Rica, Spain), 2 degrees (B.A. in Multimedia Journalism and B.A. in Spanish) and a few pieces of advice.
First, embrace opportunities head-on.
I joined President’s Leadership Council, Freshman Representative Council, Junior Greek Life and a sorority within weeks of my first day at OSU. The people I met in those groups encouraged me to campaign for a senate seat in Student Government. Not long after that, I applied to work as a campus tour guide. Looking back at my time at Oklahoma State, the people I met in those organizations are what made my entire collegiate experience.
The organizations themselves are great; they taught me leadership principles and introduced me to other opportunities further down the road, but from where I stand now, the only things that really matter are the relationships I formed.
As a freshman, you have a lot of freshman exclusive opportunities. There are organizations, info sessions and events catered to only freshman—take advantage of that. Meet the people in your class, the people that will be by your side through college, because this is the probably last time you'll be surrounded by thousands of people your age experiencing the same things as you.
Second, utilize OSU’s resources.
OSU offers free tutoring and counseling services, among other services. The LASSO center offers one-on-one tutoring on a class-by-class basis. The Math Learning and Success Center offers a study space with tutors on deck. I’d show up to the MLSC, sit down with some friends, do my homework, and anytime I got to a problem I didn’t understand, I’d simply raise my hand and a tutor would walk me through the process.
Using those two resources, I finished freshman year with a 4.0 GPA.
But that’s not to say college is easy. There will be times when you become overwhelmed by school, relationships, pressure, etc. Know that OSU counseling services is available to offer guidance and support through those times. I’m not ashamed in the slightest to say I scheduled counseling every year; mental health is vitally important.
Finally, take class seriously, but don’t forget to dream.
It can be easy to get lost in the monotonous grind of daily classes, work and routine. Remember to take a step back to refocus on your goals.
By taking time to do this, I planned three study abroad trips, nearly all of them financed by scholarships. OSU is constantly advertising opportunities: trips abroad, scholarships, jobs, internships etc. Take note of them, and remember that although taking time away from class to apply for them may be a chore, it could lead to truly life-altering experiences.
Through PLC, I studied abroad in the British Isles where I became dear friends with a woman who’s wedding I’ll be in this summer. Through the Spanish department, I studied abroad in Costa Rica where I decided that I want to be a foreign correspondent. Through the Office of Scholar Development, I applied for The Truman Scholarship, became a finalist, and know where I'd like my future to take me.
Finally, above all, make time for people.
It may seem eons away now, but college truly passes in a blur. At the end, you’ll get a diploma certifying your credits and scores, and you’ll walk away. What really matters is the people you walk away with.
Invest time in people and make friendships that will last far longer than four years.
Freshman year gives the illusion of forever, but I promise four years will go quicker than you think. Savor them.