It’s that time of year again where the school days seem to become longer and longer, and summer cannot come fast enough. The sophomores are becoming juniors, the juniors are thinking about colleges and the seniors have mentally already moved into their dorm rooms. While the seniors are passing the time by infecting everyone else with senioritis, some recent Wesleyan alumni have taken a moment to pass down some words of wisdom about what they wish they would have known this time last year and what they have learned since then.
So while you are soaking up every last precious minute of your fleeting high school experience, take this valued advice to heart; these alumni wish they would have.
What is one thing you wish you would’ve known for your first day of college/first college class?
“Talk to the people next to you, even if it’s just hello. You may never speak to them again, or they may become one of your good friends! Both outcomes are okay. Both are normal.” – Emma Anderson, Class of 2016
“Where my classes were. [And] I wish I would have known to stay in the dining halls longer because that’s where you make friends.” – Mary Cowart, Class of 2016
What is something Wesleyan prepared you well for?
“Academics, 100%… With Wesleyan’s intensive extracurricular activities and high academic expectations, I felt I was already prepared to manage my schedule. I also cannot overemphasize the value of being able to write an academic essay; Wesleyan, in particular AP Literature and AP Capstone, gave me the best tools in order to write at or above college standards.” – Emma Anderson, Class of 2016
“Writing in college is a breeze. All of the essays I had to write for Mrs. Morris, Mr. Tamel and Mrs. Shupert really paid off.” – Sheridan Davenport, Class of 2016
“Writing essays, reviewing essays and Spanish class.” – Mary Cowart, Class of 2016
“The workload… That doesn’t mean I’m not stressed out when that kind of week happens; it’s just much less of a culture shock for me than it is for a lot of people here at Samford. Also, grammar! Shout out to my lower and middle school English teachers for engraining all of the basic grammar rules in my brain! (Seriously, thank you!) The number of people here who don’t know their basic grammar skills is honestly shocking.” -Katie Roth
What is something Wesleyan did not prepare you well for?
“Wesleyan didn’t prepare me to have “bad” professors. Some of my professors have been condescending and mean, while some have just not been good teachers. I guess I would say I was spoiled by having amazing teachers at Wesleyan that genuinely cared for me and my success.” – Bailey Borreson, Class of 2016
“Eating healthy and self-motivation. It’s hard to motivate myself without parents right there and teachers who don’t care if I pass or fail.” – Mary Cowart, Class of 2016
“Making new friends… At Wesleyan, you grew up with your entire grade. You knew a lot about everyone’s lives even if you didn’t want to. In college, you don’t know anything about people’s lives or pasts unless they tell you. Deep relationships don’t happen immediately. You have to work at them. It definitely took me a few months to find my people.” – Katie Roth, Class of 2016
What is one thing you’ve learned in college, but not from a class?
“I sleep really well in ENOs. Long road trips are much better when you turn down the music and talk instead. The best conversations happen after 2 a.m.” – Mary Cowart, Class of 2016
“There are a lot of different types of people from various types of backgrounds, which can be a little intimidating at first, but everyone has something to offer to our world and can teach you something about yourself and/or the world around you. Keep an open mind but stay true to who you are.” – Sheridan Davenport, Class of 2016
“Keep your room clean even if your roommate is messy. Vacuum the floor. Take out the trash. Do your laundry and dishes at least once a week. Don’t put certain shrinkable clothes in the dryer. Wash your sheets at least once a month. Don’t blow all your money on grocery shopping. Use coupons or savings apps. Get to class and work on time. Have your dad teach you how to change the oil in your car before you leave for college. Don’t take too many naps. Don’t stay up too late just because you can. Go to the doctor if you’re sick. Etc. Etc.” – Katie Roth, Class of 2016
What advice would you give your second-semester high school senior self?
“Enjoy where you are right now; you’ll never be a kid again. Living at home won’t be the same again so enjoy your family (no matter how much they nag you in the last few months…) Mistakes in the past are forgotten, and it’s time to start making your own decisions and reaping the rewards and consequences.” – Sheridan Davenport, Class of 2016
“Don’t choose the random roommate option. That doesn’t always work out as well as you think it will… ” – Katie Roth, Class of 2016
“College will be hard, but not for the reasons you expect… You will make friends early on, but you might not always keep those. Don’t be afraid to challenge yourself. If you don’t like something, get out of it. If someone or something makes you uncomfortable, say something. Do what you love regardless of what it does for your resume. The cheesy advice that your teachers, parents and older friends give you about college…a lot of it’s true. And lastly, call your mom, even if you don’t really want to.” – Emma Anderson, Class of 2016
What advice would you say to someone nervous about making friends in college?
“Everyone else is just as nervous. There’s no such thing as “the cool/popular” crowd. Be friends with people who can learn from, grow with and enjoy life with and remember that those people can often times be someone you wouldn’t expect.” – Sheridan Davenport, Class of 2016
“Stay in the dining halls until you have friends. Don’t just settle for the first people you meet because you’re afraid you won’t meet anyone else. Stick to your values, and don’t do something just because you’re afraid of not making friends.” – Mary Cowart, Class of 2016
“Just remember that everyone is in the same boat as you, so people are very willing to reach out and make new friends. Before long, you will look around and realize that you’re surrounded by a bunch of people who love you even though you didn’t know any of them two months ago. That has been the most fun part of college for me.” – Will Harper, Class of 2016
“1) Give it time. It might not happen immediately, but it will definitely happen eventually. 2) Be intentional. If you’re naturally an introvert, learn to put yourself outside of your comfort zone. 3) Don’t be too quick to judge people. Get to know a person before you make assumptions because someone you meet might end up being your best friend or future roommate.” – Katie Roth, Class of 2016
“It will absolutely be challenging, especially in those first weeks, but don’t expect too much of yourself too soon… If you make friends, but later realize they aren’t right for you, don’t be afraid to make changes. Find people who better you, who love you, who appreciate you quirks, who encourage you, and who fulfill your needs. Settling will slowly break you down; you deserve good people in your life.” – Emma Anderson, Class of 2016
What is something you wish someone would’ve taught you/warned you about before college?
“Be who you want to be because of what you want out of your life. Do not allow the desires and beliefs of others to direct your life.” – Sheridan Davenport, Class of 2016
“Taught me how to really take care of my car. Warned me about not taking 8 a.m.’s.” – Mary Cowart, Class of 2016
“At the end of the day, you have to stand up for yourself. Your parents aren’t there to feed you, to ask if you did your homework, to do your laundry, etc. You, especially when your friendships are still new, are your biggest advocate. “No” is a complete sentence. And sometimes, even when you can fold your laundry and get yourself fed, the biggest problem is within. You may be generally mature enough for college, but sometimes you’ll sit on your friend’s dorm floor and realize you are miles from home with three papers to write, a missed phone call from your mom and a bowling ball in your chest. You can prepare as much as you want for college, but it will still hurt sometimes. And that’s okay! You’re growing. You will change, even if you think you won’t.” – Emma Anderson, Class of 2016
Have you asked your parents for any advice about college/everyday life in general? Please explain.
“One of the biggest things I called upon my mom’s advice for in college was when I got sick. Even with Google and WebMD at our fingertips, sometimes you just have to call your mom or dad… I’ve talked to my mom about friend issues and everything in between. I think the key is not being afraid to ask for help, even [for] something small. Your parents love you, and any phone call or text can be good for maintaining a strong relationship with them.” – Emma Anderson, Class of 2016
“Honestly, not really. I like to think that this is really the first time my parents can’t really influence me, and all of the decisions I make are my own.” – Mary Cowart, Class of 2016
Do you have any advice about keeping in touch with high school friends?
“Make a schedule to talk to your high school friends and family because it is SO EASY to lose touch…Snail mail sounds cute, but doesn’t really work well.” – Mary Cowart, Class of 2016
“Go visit them if the opportunity arises. Get together when you’re both/all home from college for breaks.” – Katie Roth, Class of 2016
“Do it. Even if it’s awkward or sporadic…if you truly, truly care about that person and your friendship with them, send them a text. You don’t have to call every week or even every month; people get busy. But it will make the hard weeks so much better when you know you can call on an old friend. Still, don’t spread yourself too thin. Not every friendship requires constant contact; it’s okay to prioritize who you really want to keep in touch with… And if someone tries to reach out to you, don’t ignore them! They made the effort, and you can too.” – Emma Anderson, Class of 2016
“You definitely need to make an effort. You get busy with your new lives and new friends, so it can be hard to stay in touch. Social media definitely helps keep you in the loop though!” – Bailey Borreson, Class of 2016
If you have had or currently hold a job, any advice about balancing school and work?
“I just have to remind myself that school comes first. Don’t agree to work a shift you don’t have the time to work. Just don’t put too much on your plate. Accept that you can’t physically do everything. Think about why you are where you are. Although some extra money is helpful, you’re not at college to work a minimum wage job.” – Katie Roth, Class of 2016
Is college what you expected? Please explain.
“College is so much better than expected, but also so much more work than expected.” – Mary Cowart, Class of 2016
“Yes and no. I never thought I’d be a volunteer in a children’s theatre program. I never thought I’d be spending a month in Jamaica this summer through a non-profit foundation at my school. I never thought I’d have written and directed two short plays… Sometimes you cry in the library, but other [times] you have silent dance parties with your roommate. It’s a mixed bag of stress, joy, embarrassment, cooperation, tears, love and newness.” – Emma Anderson, Class of 2016