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What I wish I knew – Jules Slater ’21

Jules Slater
Jules Slater ’21, Advocacy Communication POE, Future Mayor of Picklesburgh

This blog post started as a “What I wish I had known before starting college,” but after staring at my screen for longer than I’d like to admit with no ideas popping forward, I’ve come to the conclusion that there’s nothing I really and truly wish I had known.

Some may say that they wish they had known who their friends were going to be, or how to study for a college exam, or how to pay their taxes, but I truly believe that everything I’ve learned between my senior year of high school and my senior year of college have shaped me into who I am. I would not be the person I am today without these formative learning experiences. Sure, it would have been so much easier on my GPA had I known how to study for a college exam, but learning through actually doing  is what taught me things about myself that I didn’t know before and taught me how to deal with failure.

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Making College during Covid the New Normal

Jules Slater
Jules Slater ’21, Advocacy Communication POE, Future Mayor of Picklesburgh

“I figured even though it wasn’t what I was used to, at least I could be on campus when so many other colleges were forced to shut their doors.”

I’m two days into my last semester at Juniata. Wow. If you’ve been reading my other blog posts, you know that I tend to get sappy about my time at Juniata ending, so I’ll try to avoid that as much as possible in this one. Since the first blog post I wrote, I’ve focused mostly on aspects of campus or opinions I hold that have been unaffected by COVID. However, after living through a semester unlike any other, I think it’s necessary to commemorate it in writing.

This semester was, as everything else in the world seems to be these days, unprecedented. Coping with the effects of a pandemic on campus was stress inducing at times but I’m so thankful to have had the opportunity to create a new normal on-site instead of from my childhood bedroom in Pittsburgh.

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What I miss about Juniata over break (and what I’ll miss for the rest of my life)

Jules Slater
Jules Slater ’21, Advocacy Communication POE, Future Mayor of Picklesburgh

It took me a long time to get homesick during my first year of college. I missed my family (especially my dog), of course, but the intense homesickness we often hear so much about just didn’t set in. I believe this is because I’ve always felt like Juniata is my home just as much as my real home is my home. I’m reminded of this fact every time I leave Juniata for fall, winter, spring, or summer break. No matter how long I’m away from Juniata—whether it’s four days or three months (or eight months when I studied abroad)—I find myself homesick for the same things.

The first thing I always miss—obviously—are my friends and loved ones at Juniata. My roommate, my significant other, my favorite professor, my friend group… these are all people Juniata has led me to. But more than missing just these people and the wonder and excitement they add to my life, I miss the social aspects of campus that simply don’t exist in my hometown. Things like bingo on the quad or waving hello to someone from my window in Cloister’s arch. I miss having everything I need less than a city block away from me; friends and support system included.

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Reinventing yourself the Juniata way

Jules Slater
Jules Slater ’21, Advocacy Communication POE, Future Mayor of Picklesburgh

“College is a time to reinvent yourself.”

If only I could count how many times I’ve heard that phrase. Honestly, I thought the idea of reinventing yourself just because you’re headed to a place where no one knows your name was silly

The more I think about this now, I realize that “reinventing myself” is exactly what I’ve done. Well, by “reinventing” I don’t mean in a way that I completely changed who I am because I didn’t like who I was in high school and I had this chance to switch it up completely. It was more like I started evolving into a more well rounded person when I started to settle in at Juniata.

At the start of my freshman year, I told myself, as I’m sure many do, that I would try to push myself socially. My head was filled with key phrases like, “Get involved!” and “Make the most of it!” I was determined to do both of those things.

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How I learned to ask for help early and often

Jules Slater
Jules Slater ’21, Advocacy Communication POE, Future Mayor of Picklesburgh

One of the best things about academics at Juniata, as many will attest to, is the two-adviser system. Assigned to you upon the start of your freshman year, you’ll have an academic adviser, someone who knows the ins and outs of your POE, as well as a mentor, someone who is there to guide you through your college experience. The pros of the two-adviser system are abundant if you know how to use it.

I believe that I began my first year at Juniata at a disadvantage to many of my peers, simply because I was unaccustomed to asking for help. In high school, I felt like there was a stigma associated with receiving help from teachers. When I began college, I tried to figure things out on my own instead of going to my advisers for help. So for my first two semesters, I relied on myself to schedule my courses, understand my POE requirements, and learn what each requirement meant and how to fulfill it.

It wasn’t until my second year at Juniata, when I decided to change my POE, that I finally admitted to myself that I would need help if I was going to be successful at Juniata.

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