By Guest Writer Catherine Carter
To the high school graduate entering the vast, diverse garden of college:
Welcome! Most of us are just following wherever the wind seems to take us. Transition is about adaptation, and adaptation is specifically individual to you. It is not always easy, but it is always worth it. My main advice to you is this: grow. I have four tools I have found most useful in making the most of the transition into the garden that symbolizes college.
You will go through seasons of blooming & seasons of pruning.
There will be times when you feel as if you are thriving, where freedom seems limitless with no cloud in sight. You will feel confident and motivated to study as hard as you can for that test, and you will feel on top of the world doing life 24 hours a day, seven days a week with friends new and old. However, there will also be seasons of pruning where you feel as though you are all alone. No one will prompt you on how your day at school was as you walk through the door, no one whose first instinct is to hug you at the end of a long day, and no one telling you that it’s in your best interest to do schoolwork that you have no motivation to do after watching the sun set and rise through a library window. These seasons are no easy feat, but always remember that pruning leads to blooming.
There will be times you need to step away – something I wish someone had told me. The world will keep turning if you are so sleep-deprived you can barely hold your eyes open. Sleep. Odds are, that test you are studying for will go more smoothly with a few hours of sleep under your belt. College can be incredibly draining. Allow yourself the one or two class skips a semester. Take care of yourself first. Don’t allow the stress of school work load dim your passions.
Don’t let anyone steal your sunshine.
One of the most wonderful aspects of college is the diversity of people that you will encounter. There is only one you. Be that. Don’t let anyone steal the passion you hold in order to fit in. Do what you love, and love what you do. Diversity is the key to learning and growing. Embrace people with open arms, and often the tough ones teach you the most.
Lastly, I encourage you to travel. See all of the uniqueness this world has to offer. Save up for road trips, take jobs in new cities, and meet people from different places. Embrace adventure, no matter what your definition of adventure may be. Don’t allow stereotypes to limit your experience, and you will quickly find that your time in college will bring the greatest experiences of your life.
This is Living Hope.
Catherine Hope Carter (yes, her middle name is literally Hope) will be a junior at the University of Tennessee in the fall majoring in Wildlife and Fisheries. This summer she is volunteering as a Christian camp counselor in Chugach National Forest in Alaska. When she isn’t cheering on the Volunteers, Cat can be found exploring the Smoky Mountains, reading in her Eno hammock, and snuggling with dogs of every kind.