Before I say anything about my college experience, something very important to me that I want to mention, and something that no one really talks about, is that college really is a privilege. We're all told from a young age that "it's never too early to start thinking about college," and held to the standard that you must attend college to be successful in your adult life. While I would totally encourage all of you to further your education if you have that option, I think you should all feel confident in that whatever path you choose to take is okay. I have faith in all of you that you will do what's best for you, and succeed in whatever it is you choose to do.
I teach preschool two days a week through an amazing program called Jumpstart, which focuses on community outreach and literacy in young children. In my preschool's office, college posters are plastered on the walls. While I really do think it's awesome to encourage children to be educated, I think that somewhere along the line, it can be misconstrued that if you go to university, you're somehow better than someone who attends community college or someone who chose not to attend college at all, and that's very wrong.
Everyone's experience post-high school looks different; a lot of people will choose to go to community college, take a gap year to travel, or work to save money. Some may join the military or not go to college at all. It's so important to understand that life is not made in a "one size fits all" mold, and all shapes, sizes, and variations of what you choose to do is not okay completely okay, but also amazing! My biggest wish and hope for all of you is that if you do decide to go to college, you don't look down upon someone who doesn't. I think that tends to happen too often. You never know what someone's life looks like, or what opportunities someone has available to them. Keep that in mind as you approach graduation.
With that being said, here's a little bit about my college experience so far, as well as my advice to you.
Overall, I chose to attend Pepperdine because it ended up being my most affordable choice, as far as universities go. (Quick side note: on that topic, it was really a surprise to me how generous private schools can be in terms of scholarships and financial aid. If you're hesitant in applying to a private school because you don't think you can afford it, I would encourage you to apply anyways. You never know what could happen.)
Pepperdine was a really amazing choice for me, because it's far enough away from home that I can be fully engaged in my life on campus, but also close enough to home that if I choose to, I can unwind and spend time with family. That's something that has been really helpful for me.
Pepperdine has a total student population of only around 3,500 students, which actually has been a better experience that I originally thought it would be. You get to know everyone a little bit, and you recognize people more often than you might at a larger school. For me, this familiarity aided me greatly in that I felt a sense of comfort during my transition.
Also, the spirituality aspect of attending a religious school is really wonderful, even if you aren't religious, in my opinion. People connect all sorts of things in their life to religion, and connect with each other on a spiritual basis. I think it's amazing to hear people speak so passionately, and being able to contribute to those conversations candidly has been an absolute blessing. I've grown so much spirituality in the past 6 months because of that. Being around like-minded people is great because you don't have to be worried about judgement if you speak on a topic from a religious standpoint.
If you applied to Pepperdine and have the opportunity to attend, I really highly suggest taking a tour and seeing how you like it. It's a very beautiful campus with stunning ocean views from almost any point on campus. This is literally a view from my dorm.
In my experience, the conversations you'll encounter in college are far different from those you may have had in high school. You know those late nights when you stayed up late to talk to someone because the conversation got really interesting? Those types of conversations become normal in your everyday life. People are coming from all over the world to attend school there, and many will have far different experiences from what you may be used to. It's absolutely beautiful to learn about people's lives and where they've come from.
You have a certain sense of familiarity with everyone at your school. You're all attending that school because you've chosen to and you want to be there. In high school, most everyone attends school based on where you live, and very few people really want to be there. In college, however, everyone is connected through the basis that they've all chosen the same school to attend, and all qualified to go there. It's comforting to have that sense of alikeness with those around you, I've found.
When applying to schools: apply to a "safety" school, a "target" school, and a "reach" school. My biggest regret during my application process was not applying to any "reach" schools. I didn't give myself enough credit when I was in high school. I always say people around me putting in more effort, joining more clubs, having more patches on their letterman jackets than I did, and I convinced myself I wasn't good enough for college. I ended up being accepted into all the schools I had applied to. While I believe I ended up in the right place, I wish I had applied to "reach" schools to see where I really fell academically.
Attend school where you want to go. Don't take into account where your friends or significant other are going.
Don't feel like you have to join greek life. I promise you can still thrive without it.
High school graduation is a huge stepping stone in your life, but can also be misleading. You're not done with school, so try not to get into that mindset just yet.
It's not as easy as people make it seem- classes is college actually do happen.
Social media is very misleading. Everyone has a hard time adjusting to a new school, especially if you don't know a lot of people there. High school is a bubble, and you don't really realize that until you're gone. If you're struggling, it's okay! It's totally normal. I can guarantee you all of your friends are having a hard time too, despite what their Instagram may say.
Stick to it, it only gets better.
When your homework and classes are completed, you may feel tired and lazy. I encourage you to pour into someone in those times. Get coffee with someone you've wanted to know better. You will never regret spending time investing into a relationship.
Get to know your professors. Visit them during their office hours and introduce yourself to them.
Start learning how to talk to people now. There's always those people in your life where you say "let's get coffee soon!" or whatever, and you don't follow through. In college, you can't afford to do that as much. Learning how to pour into people one-on-one will help you to have a far easier time making friends when the time comes. Don't worry, though, if you have a hard time doing that. College teaches you how to, and that's something I didn't even think about before going, but it's made a huge impact on me.
If you want to keep in touch with someone form your hometown, make a solid effort from the beginning. It's hard to keep up with everyone, but try to continue to pour into the people you care most about.
Write letters to your friends and family. It's very endearing, and they're so fun to receive in the mail.
Advice From Other College Students