Reflections on college

In less than three weeks, I will cross the stage at the Hartford Healthcare Amphitheater to receive a piece of paper that verifies I know some stuff about history and other things. Because of the college credits I earned in high school and extra classes I took while at the University of New Haven, I’m graduating in three years instead of four.

I started college in August 2020, when the campus was basically locked down because of the pandemic. I was unaware of what the bottom half of my classmates’ faces looked like until March 2022. Orientation emphasized joining clubs or intramural teams to connect with the campus community and meet people. This is true, but I had to navigate campus by myself for the first year, and I wish I had someone to give me guidance on how to actually survive college. I’ll give you my cheat sheet of stuff I would’ve told myself freshman year.

Build discipline.
My sixth-grade English teacher said, “Life’s hard. Get a helmet.” I still quote him. There’s a massive emphasis on practicing self-care, but it’s never shown as doing things you want to do. Finish that assignment and clean your room.

Consider the fact that you don’t know anything.
I thought I knew what my career path was, but switched my major halfway through my first year – there’s no shame in reworking your plans.

That boy who only Snapchats you at night doesn’t care about you.
If you only hear from him after 8 p.m., ignore him. Don’t fabricate a nonexistent emotional connection or seek validation.

Plan for the end of the party, not the start.
If you’re the Designated Driver or promise to be sober that night, honor that commitment. Your friends are relying on you.

Don’t start vaping.
Just because people around you are doing it, doesn’t mean you have to. Being addicted to a little piece of plastic with flavored air is embarrassing. Your wallet, lungs and self-respect will thank you.

You don’t have to be best friends with your roommate, you just have to live with them.
Be courteous of each other’s living spaces and discuss boundaries, if necessary. I’ve heard plenty of “roommate horror stories” that could have been resolved if they communicated with their roommate or resident assistant.

Commit to academics.
You’re at college to receive an education, first and foremost. Failure is part of the learning process, but it shouldn’t become a habit. I received a rather scathing comment on an assignment my first year that started with, “I don’t even know what to say.” Learn from those mistakes.

The Lindsay who started college in 2020 is certainly not the Lindsay who will graduate soon. I embarrassed myself a lot, spent too much money, did a few regrettable things, cried more than I’d like to admit, but I’ll never forget my time here or the people I met – for better or worse.