(Because this was received well when I wrote it after my freshmen year, it’d behoove me not to share this again to the Class of 2016. To all you graduates out there, congratulations. This will be one of the most memorable times of your lives. As you prepare to write your new chapter, let my words speak life to you as you prepare for the BEST years of your life-college)
Dear You EAGER High School Graduates,
I can remember just three years ago, May 30, 2013, the anticipation, the excitement, and the anxiety I was feeling as I prepared to embark upon a journey to the life everyone said I would come to love, enjoy, and embrace-the college life. I was excited because one part of my life was over yet another part was just beginning. It was my time to flock from my grandparent’s nest and use the wings they’ve worked so hard to nurture and grow. However, while the intensity of my excitement was surreal, I was also scared to death. What would happen next? Would I succeed or would I fail and disappoint those who desperately need me to make it? Would I ever see the people from my senior class again? Before I begin to give you advice on the independence and responsibility of college life, I need you to remember all the members of your senior class and accept the fact you will never see ALL of them together again. Accept the fact that you are at a point in your life where you are growing, maturing, and saying goodbye to those who you may no longer have anything in common with.
Often adults, mostly our parents, try to give you all advice on the “Do’s” and “Don’ts” of college. They try to be there for you when you need them or help when need it, but for whatever reason, it’s just a tad more propitious when you can receive advice from someone just like you. So, you want to know how to succeed in college? It’s simple. In the words of my First Lady at the Claflin University, Mrs. Alice C. Tisdale, “Just Do You”. In further detail, don’t grow up too fast. Sure you’re ready for college and all the adventures that come along with it but don’t rush into anything you have years to experience. Take one day at a time and enjoy the moments, the memories, the laughter, and even the tears that college will bring. Secondly, a part of “just doing you” requires you to become independent. Take risks and don’t be afraid to fail. Don’t get “too” focused on grades because all “A”s truly do not mean anything unless you’re truly retaining the information. Personally, this is something I’ve come to terms with throughout my college years because of my past tendencies to be what others labeled as an “over-achiever”. However, do what you have to attain good grades. Do NOT procrastinate. While procrastination may work for some, it may not work for you. During my freshman year, I’ve witnessed tragedies of students who couldn’t come back second semester or were placed on academic probation because of failure to simply doing the work on time. Simply stated, college is much different than high school. While in high school, you could more than likely read your textbook for 15 minutes and ace a test, that method won’t quite suffice in the college world. You need to find a place, schedule, and method for you to study and stick to it.
Lastly, in achieving your newfound independence and responsibility, nothing will be more important in college than keeping your relationship with God and truly letting him use you. As the years progressed, I was starting to breakdown. Stressed from the workload and disheartened by the conflicts college brought, I truly sometimes just wanted to come home. I even called my grandmother crying because I couldn’t quite understand why God takes good people through the worst situations. My grandmother is my prayer partner. She prays with me every morning prior to departing for classes. I remember my freshmen year perfectly. While I was still attending church, I began to think about my faith less and less. I began to focus on my academics more and praying less. It wasn’t until I received notification that I was accepted into the SMDEP Program at Duke University for the summer and granted the opportunity to travel to Peru with the Tropical Pathological And Infectious Diseases Association, that I saw a rainbow shining through. I realized that God will always have a plan for me despite the obstacles that may come my way, how people may treat me, or how the devil may try to attack me, however it is truly up to me to “just do me”. Furthermore, as you start this passage to adulthood, you owe it to yourself and God to take the road less traveled-the road that will help you to attain all of your hearts desires and find the fulfillment God created you to have. In doing this, resolve to create a deeper friendship with God by means of good habits such as attending church every Sunday, reading His Word every day, praying, and taking time out to thank Him for all he’s done.
In closing, there are a lot of changes coming your way as you prepare for college. You’ll spend the summer maybe wondering “Who am I going to be?”, “What are my new friends going to be like?”, “What’s going to be my major?”, “What’s my roommate going to be like?”, or “What organizations will I get involved in?” While these wonderings are great, truly spend this summer embracing who YOU are and what it truly means to “Just Do You.” Do NOT come to college and lose who you are, your morals, or what your parents have spent so long to instill in you. Do NOT get caught in the hype of “the college life”. Remember who you are and whose you are. Remember where you started and where you’re going. Most importantly, in the words of my phenomenal pastor, remember “Greater is Coming”.
Adia Raichelle Louden.