My Personal College Bucket List

Emily1Live off campus with friends. Living on campus is a great way to make friends your first year at school and eases the transition from home. You don’t have to clean your bathroom or make your own meals and you get to live with your classmates. However, as a third or fourth year, living in a house with friends sounds ideal. I can imagine cooking dinner at night and sitting on the porch in the evenings doing readings together; it would be lovely.

Study abroad. Between high school and college I took a gap year through Global Citizen Year and lived in Senegal for eight months. The program was oriented towards cultural immersion rather than education per se. Since then I’ve been itching to go abroad again. I would love to spend my third year in another country studying.

Be an SA. Getting involved is important in high school, but somehow feels more significant in college. SA stands for Student Advisor at Grinnell. They are the two 4th years assigned to each dorm floor who are in charge of the residents on that floor. But unlike other schools, they’re not disciplinary. They’re just there to help in any way you need and make you pancakes on Sunday mornings.

Have a meaningful summer internship. Internships allow you to experience the work market in an impermanent, less scary way than your first post-graduation job. You get to test out what you might be interested in pursuing down the line, but whether you like it or not, it only lasts a few months.

Visit a friend at his/her school. Why not visit your friends where they go to school? Colleges are not all the same. It will help you to understand what environment they’re experiencing and for you to put your perspective on your school into context.

Play a sport. I miss playing tennis. I played in high school and then didn’t play over my gap year because, well, Senegal doesn’t have many tennis courts. I then decided to ease into college by not committing 3 hours a day away to tennis in the fall and spring. While I think it was a wise decision for my first year, I cannot wait to play next year. Athletes do an amazing job balancing academics and their sport. I want to see if I can do it too.

Emily Stevens, Quest Scholar, Grinnell ’19

College Isn’t As Hard As You Think It is

emily_stevens_1As a high school student all I heard about was how tough college would be and how all the work we were given was to prepare us for the even greater workload to come. Now that I’ve been in college for a little over two months I can attest to the fact that yes, my classes are challenging, but by no means are they unmanageable. So far I haven’t pulled any all-nighters; in fact, I haven’t stayed up past midnight doing work once. I’m taking Introduction to Biology, Calculus, Spanish, and a required tutorial class that introduces first years to college reading and writing called Constructions of Childhood. It’s not the most difficult schedule but not a walk in the park either. My advice is to work effectively.

Your room is your sanctuary. Keep it a positive space associated with sleep or socializing. Most schools offer abundant study spaces and you’re sure to find the perfect one for you after a little searching. Also, know yourself. Few people I know actually study better with company. It can be tempting to study in a friends dorm but if you’re like me, you’ll probably get more done off on your own somewhere away from distractions. This way you can be more productive in a shorter amount of time.

What I didn’t expect coming to college was truly what a social experience it is. Especially at a small liberal arts school, it feels as if you spend around 90% of your time with or around people. Between roommates, eating with friends, group projects, and general hanging out with people, there’s hardly any downtime left for just you. Working out or going on a coffee run can be great solo activities to relieve stress and get you of your head. Sometimes a night in with Netflix is what you need to get away from the bubble life that can consume college students.

Alternately, don’t worry about silly things. If you don’t know where the party is on a Saturday night or weren’t invited – you’re not a social failure, if you don’t have a boyfriend or girlfriend – you’re not gross, if you don’t have a million friends – you’re not unlikeable. You’re doing just fine.

Emily Stevens, Quest Scholar, Grinnell ’19