“Life is simple: you get out what you put in.”
The grass is green, the flowers are blooming, the birds are chirping and orientation sessions are in full swing at campuses all around the country! A new set of graduates are making the pilgrimage to their new temporary homes, anxious to get the first taste of freedom that awaits them come fall. They are memorizing the layout of the campus, visiting their new classrooms, introducing themselves to their first college friends, and trying to figure out exactly where they will fit in their new world.
I remember attending my own orientation, and while it was six years ago, it seems just like yesterday. I remember dragging my bag up three flights of stairs into the residence hall I had literally driven by thousands of time in the last 18 years. I remember being elated at having my own key to my own space, even if it was just for two and a half days. I remember being excited to have a roommate even though I was sharing a room with a girl I had never met before.
I remember being nervous as I walked up the hill to the welcome session. What if I didn’t make any friends? Would I have a terrible roommate? Maybe college wasn’t going to be as great as everyone always said it would be. Would I have trouble in my classes? Could I handle the homework? What happens if I decide that I want to change my major? What if . . .
I remember having thousands of questions and getting zero answers to my questions at orientation. Don’t get me wrong. The orientation staff was amazing. Yes, the staff talked about signing up for classes and what student organizations I could join. Yes, they helped create opportunities to make friends and help ease my fear that no one would want to talk to me. Yes, they told me all about their experiences, and what a great place Northern Michigan University had been for them.
What the staff couldn’t do was tell me what MY experience was going to be like. I wanted to know that I was going to be okay, to know that I could do this! to know that college wasn’t going to be the end but really the beginning.
Looking back, although I thought that no one was sharing the answer with me, I heard it over and over again in all of their presentations. My college experience was going to be what I made it; I was going to get out of this experience what I was putting into it. The only way college was going to suck was if I let it suck. For the first time in my life I felt totally free to be who I wanted, where I wanted, when I wanted. NMU would give me the opportunity to explore new interests and decide how I fit into the world. Orientation gave me hope for my future; it made me determined to live my life to its fullest. The world was my oyster; college wasn’t going to be the end but really the beginning.
Regardless of all the questions and answers I received from orientation, learning that college was my new beginning was by far the most important lesson for me. Now each year as the grass turns green, the flowers start to bloom and the freshmen arrive for orientation, I remember that lesson and I work to incorporate it back into my life with a vengeance. You get out of life what you put in, and I plan on getting back everything that I can!
This post is part of the Emerging SA Pro series following 4 awesome people: Alexandria, Doug, Emily, and Alexander, as they blog monthly about 1 year of their journey as either a new SA Pro or SA grad student. We are proud to help them share their stories as they break into our field.