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.
Similarly, I would have loved to know who my friends were going to be so that I could have spent every second of college in their company. At the same time, however, forming these friendships and deciding who I wanted to surround myself with taught me how to be a good friend in ways I didn’t know were possible. I also learned to value and treasure these friendships through the process of building them.
The one thing that trips me up here is the COVID-19 pandemic. About a year ago I would have traded anything to have been able to see this coming. I would have done ridiculous things to be able to know that my third Mountain Day would be my last. Or that I would have to leave my study abroad experience—something I’d been dreaming of for years—three months early. I thought that having known these things would have allowed me to better prepare for them to minimize their impact. Even these experiences, as horrible as some of them were, taught me lessons about resilience, privilege, and the power of community.
So, long story short, I don’t have any sage nuggets of wisdom about what you need to know before coming to Juniata. What I can tell you is that what you learn while you’re here will teach you things about the world and people around you that I hope will have as big of an impact on you as they did on me. Embrace the learning as it happens and know that you will be a better, stronger, more empathetic person because of it.