2014 grads offer college advice to class of 2015

The magnitude of change college brings is as unsettling as it is exciting, which is why three 2014 graduates, now attending public universities were more than happy to share what they’ve learned since leaving Cedar Falls High School with those of you following similar routes this coming fall.

For most, thinking about entering into a completely foreign environment brings to light a lot of fears. 2014 CFHS graduate Noah Klein now attends Iowa State University, but before leaving worried he wouldn’t be successful there, “My biggest fears were that I wouldn’t make any friends and that I wouldn’t pass any of my classes. [It’s] very dramatic, I know.”

But with his freshman year completed, his perspective is wildly different. “Once I got here I realized I had no reason to worry. Everyone was in the same position, so if you were lost finding a lecture hall, you made friends with the other people who were too.”

2014 CFHS graduate Lisa Schreck now attends Ball State University in Muncie, Ind., and has a perspective very similar to Klein’s. “Meeting people was so easy. For the first month of freshmen year everyone has their orientation pants on, approaching each other with the attitude that there is potential for a future friendship.” Put your worries to rest, making friends may be the easiest part of college.

The real challenge surfaces in your academics and newfound responsibilities. Shantel Danielsen, a 2014 CFHS graduate, currently attends the University of Iowa. Like many others, it took her a little time to adjust to the increased academic demands. “Time management and self-discipline are the two most challenging aspects of college for me. The first few weeks I was amazed at how much time I spent studying and doing homework. But you adjust. It feels totally normal at this point.”

Klein echoed Danielsen. “The hardest thing for me is juggling everything and knowing when to get everything done by.” While academics may be challenging, fortunately they are something familiar. Contrary to what you may have thought in the midst of stress and unrest, 13 years of education in a school system as great as ours does actually have its advantages.

Making friends and passing classes are without a doubt two of the most important aspects of college, but they are both just pieces of the experience college offers. The freedom to recreate a life satisfying your own desires is on the horizon, and is not something to be wasted. Pursuing these desires reveals different truths to everyone. The most prominent lesson Klein has learned during his freshman year is, “The fact that all the little things, especially from high school are insignificant. Nobody cares who you were or what you did in high school, just who you are here and now”.

Schreck said, “My first year of college has taught me patience. You always learn more from listening than from speaking. The world we live in is so much bigger than you can imagine, and college offers a glimpse into the variety of humans on this earth.”

For Danielsen, “Time only passes faster and faster, but focus on where you are and stop wishing for the future. When you only focus on what is to come, you miss all the amazing things happening right in front of you.”

Despite their differing universities, friends and areas of study, a common idea lies in the experiences of all three of these seniors. It isn’t just their invalidated fears or academic drudgery. It is the realization that an optimal experience cannot exist without letting go of matters of less importance — and once these things stop misdirecting your energy, the experience you have is better than you could ever imagine. Not only that, but the experiences you find yourself in will shape your perspectives in ways you cannot yet imagine. Looking to the future, to a horizon filled with freedom and fulfillment, excitement begins to overpower any remnant fear.

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