Hello readers! I’m Nikki Vergakes, a senior at Salem State University. I won’t be able to say that for a long time anymore, however. I’m moving on to the “real world”. I was in a similar position four years ago when I was graduating from high school and moving on to SSU. My first year was definitely very different from my senior year. Since then, I’ve become way more involved in student organizations and have turned my two friends from freshman year into many friends that I hope to stay close with after graduation. Through some life lessons learned the hard way, I’ve accumulated many pieces of advice for undergraduates navigating the tricky waters of college.
I’ve been the one who has been writing these blog post for the past three years while simultaneously working with the most inspiring people, buffering my digital and social media skills, and most importantly seeing the direct positive effects of student involvement on campus. I was passed down this job after my freshman year from a graduating senior I knew from PRSSA (the organization that I’ve been President of this year) and am forever grateful to her! But enough with the sappy stuff, here’s some advice for you that I’ve gathered through my years at Salem State.
1. Life begins at the end of your comfort zone
Okay, this is totally an Oscar Wilde quote, but it’s also my life motto. Sorry, Oscar. I began with this mantra the minute I emailed the past SSU Cross Country coach about joining the team that was here. After I had talked to a girl (who has since become one of my closest friends) at orientation and looked up the women’s team 5K times, I decided to do what I said I’d never do: NCAA cross country. This ended up being one of the best decisions of my college career. The moral of the story is: don’t knock anything until you try it, especially in college. You’d be surprised at how many extra hours are in a day when you’re not in class from 7:30 AM – 2PM daily!
2. Treat Yo Self
Once you’ve tried a bunch of things and have a productive life, it can be hard to find time for yourself. A lot of my college career was spent working on programs and initiatives to help fellow students. It can be rewarding, but draining too. So don’t forget to enjoy that “me time”. Take yourself to Chipotle. Get an ice cream from upper north. Try Candlelit Yoga at Gassett. Take a walk on the bike path. Better yet, take a nap! If you’re burnt out, you can’t be your true authentic self.
3. You can always take it a step further
In college there are a lot of deadlines that pile up at once. You also may have internships, on-campus jobs and EBoard positions. With all of these things to balance, it may seem easier to only put half of your effort into something and pass in a final assignment that wasn’t done to the best of your ability. This may just be from my writing background, but something should always be double-checked. Have a friend read your paper or article over for clearness and readability. Double-count the math problem. Don’t be afraid to ask for help!
4. Impulsivity is key
Getting stuck in humdrum routines leads to a lackluster life. You’ll get bored with your major, your job and more. Even with the craziness of college life, this is possible. If your friend asks you to go to Treadwells and you’ve been studying for five days straight, don’t say you’re too busy. Take a study break! Some of the fondest memories I have are from last-minute plans.
5. Don’t wish it away
It’s ok to turn down plans to regroup or if you’re just not feeling it. Don’t wish the days and hours away. Don’t just simply be somewhere and not be present. If you wish the days away, it’ll be four years later and you’re going to be confused as to how the black gown got on you. You’ll be thinking– wasn’t it just freshmen year? Enjoy the small and big things, and be in the moment for all of them.
6. Every challenge is a learning experience
In the moment, yes, little and big inconveniences can really be a downer. They can cloud your judgement when planning an event, they can hold you up from study time, or force you to miss a meeting or event. The show must go on, however. In that moment, you must think fast and either figure out a solution or enlist help. We can all think of a time that this has happened to us. Did it work out? With every inconvenience, we learn a lot. It’s also something that you will most definitely be asked during future job interviews!
8. Take pictures and document everything!
This is self explanatory. There’s nothing I love more than plugging in my external hard drive and looking at old pictures. I have a folder for every year of college. Save your snaps. Archive your memories. Document these moments, because you’ll never experience college again after graduation, and you’ll want to be able to remember every minute.
It’s been an honor to serve SSU and it’s been quite the four years. They’ve definitely been unforgettable. I’ll be reliving the memories on my hard drive very soon!