*This post is catered primarily towards an audience of underclassmen SUNY Fredonia students, but also includes information relevant to a variety of up-and-coming college students.
Prepare yourself for a sentimental blurb from a graduating college senior, and hopefully some beneficial words of wisdom.
I have now spent nearly four years of my life in this place. I’ve had many valuable experiences here, some that were enlightening and worthwhile, and others that were juvenile and reckless. I have done things that I now thoroughly regret, and others that were extremely rewarding in retrospect.
I have significantly evolved as a person. My perspective on life has transformed and I have become a very different individual than when I first stepped foot in Fredonia in 2008, for better or for worse. My skin is thicker, my outlook is clearer, and my philosophies are deeper. I owe it to the people I have met along the way, and the strange opportunities and instances that have presented themselves throughout my collegiate inquisition.
I will be walking the plank of academia in mere weeks, and before doing so have compiled a series of experiences that I deem exceptionally valuable from my time here thus far. I would implore the fledgling underclassman to seize the day and live these exploits in the way they best see fit prior to graduation. So here you are folks:
Spend the summer in Fredonia. As an alternative to retreating to your hometown for the three or more summers you will have between academic years, rent out a cozy local abode and find full time work. It’s a whole lot easier than it seems, and rent is as cheap as 100 bucks a month. Despite the bad taste that often-harsh western New York winters leave, this town is tranquil and beautiful in the summertime. You can make bank working 40-hour weeks and enjoy yourself in the down time. There is a tight-knit community of really excellent folks that forms in the off-season. Expand your horizons, meet new people, have the time of your life and potentially walk away with a good chunk of cash when Fall semester rears its ugly head.
Live off campus. The Fredonia campus is a pleasant little bubble that you will unavoidably spend a lot of time occupying as a student. But come junior year, do yourself a huge favor and get the hell out of there. There are a myriad of places to choose from and rent in this town that are a reasonable walking distance from the campus. You will save loads of money depending on where you choose to live. You will be able to buy your own food and cook your own meals. You will dictate your own coming and going and your own house rules. You won’t regret it.
Throw that big Fred Fest kegger, but don’t get caught. We don’t all choose to partake in alcoholic celebrations, but assuming that you do, this feat is a must. It takes a bit of organization and diligence, but it’s going to result in a story for the recordbooks. Perhaps not one that you’ll be telling to your grandchildren around the fireplace, but nonetheless commendable. Just make sure it’s slightly less conspicuous than the neighbor’s hoopla and you’ll avoid the authorities’ attention.
Get involved. Find something you’re passionate about and join a campus or community organization. You’ll meet people that you would never have otherwise spoken to. They will provide you with friendship, diverse knowledge, and become valuable connections after you’re done with college. Going to class gets you a degree. It’s the extra steps that set you apart from the rest and eventually get you a job.
Step outside your comfort zone and take some big risks. That’s what college is for. Consider any potentially illegal or otherwise physically harmful escapades before you go through with them, but don’t be afraid to get ballsy and do something off the beaten path. So go talk to that beautiful girl at the end of the bar, question your professor’s best judgement, and switch out of that major that’s making you ungodly miserable. While things might go horribly awry when you try new stuff, the outcome will change you in completely unexpected ways.
Of course there is more that I’d love to share, but take these fleeting reflections into consideration. Work hard and play hard, this is a short time of your life that you ought to make the best of. I can only hope this helps.