As I wrap up my first semester as a Student Affairs grad, it’s hard to comprehend how quickly the past few months have absolutely flown by. When I arrived in Bowling Green, Ohio, I wasn’t quite sure what to expect. Now, three months later, I’ve met people so important to me, it’s hard to understand how I lived the first part of my life without them. These friendships have been the glue that have held me together as I’ve transitioned to living in an area so different from my home state of California and the city environment of my past two years in Washington, DC.
I had heard the friendships built in grad programs in this field were special for a few reasons and all of them have proven true. To those who may currently be searching for programs and worrying about developing friendships, or even to those of you who have experienced these memories, I want to share a few lessons I’ve learned and as cheesy as this is, affirm that you can find a home in a not forever home through the people you meet and the moments you share.
1. The people you meet in your cohort will get it. They’ll just get it.
And by it, I mean what you’re studying and what you’re passionate about. You will not be judged for getting geeky about applying student development theory in pop culture or wanting to discuss the repercussions of political affairs on your students before discussing your own feelings. They will get it, they will foster these passions, and they will challenge you to grow even more. It’s a beautiful moment when you say you are studying student affairs and you don’t have to explain in great detail what that means.
2. Find a few people you trust completely and return that trust for them.
These people will be your guiding lights, your foundations, and your rocks. You will run into their office when you witness a prime moment of student growth. You will pace in their apartments when you’re frustrated and questioning everything. They will do the same with you. You will go to bed very grateful every evening that you have found folks who accept you fully, all good, bad, and ugly parts, even though you’ve only known them for three or four months.
3. The little moments matter, maybe more so than the big ones.
Spend those extra two minutes in the car just to finish belting out a Christmas song together. Say thank you when someone buys you coffee and be sure to bring them their favorite iced coffee the next time you study with them. Acknowledge the small things that people are constantly doing for you and try to reciprocate these gestures as much as possible. These friendships are built in the lunch time chats, the fits of giggles, and the hours of being together working on a paper side by side without saying a word and just feeling that support alongside you. Grad school will be hard, but finding these folks and cherishing these moments will make it much, much easier.
This post is part of the Emerging SA Pro series following 4 awesome people: Aracelis, Emalie, Felicia, and Patrick, 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.