I graduate from college in eight days.
By the time this article prints, I’ll be the first in my family to get a degree in 60 years.
It’s surreal I’m writing that last sentence.
This article is equal parts of self-reflection and advice for those reading this piece.
First of all, I want to make this clear: there is no clock.
I’m 26 and just now finishing my degree.
I saw people across my time here who were 30, 40 years old just getting their life together and trying to graduate.
Don’t be afraid to ask for help.
I didn’t do that my first time at college.
I assumed that professors and other staff did not care to hear what was going on.
That is not the case.
As corny as this sounds, do get involved on campus.
I was incredibly blessed to work on a newspaper staff here at the Stroud Courier with talented, brilliant writers and editors.
Regardless of what organization you join, it will allow you to feel more connected to campus.
While that may sound like orientation 101 speak, there is something to be said for getting involved with a club that pushes you to come to a meeting on campus; even on the days, you may not want to be present at all.
Lastly, make relationships in your department of study.
I could list many English department faculty and staff who either helped me in a jam or were just courteous to me when I’d stop in to talk.
Those relationships matter when getting recommendation letters or talking to your advisor about future employment.
Speaking of employment, it brings me to things I wish I would have done better.
Instead of taking internships and managing my money better, I worked a dead-end job through college and am paying for it on the back end.
Moral of the story: take internships.
Another element of my college career that I wish I would have handled better was my mental health.
Take this from me: you aren’t doing yourself any favors by just pushing through the pain continuously.
I almost burned myself out completely on several occasions and I have a long list of people to thank for keeping me going.
Don’t rush your time away in college.
As someone who has been and is preparing to re-enter the workforce, what people outside of academia call “the real world,” trust me, enjoy your time.
I rushed my way through my degree and I find myself at the end saying, “I wish I had done more.”
Don’t let that be you.
The truth of college, of going out into the unknown, is that none of us really know what we are doing.
Every day in an institution is a series of tests.
Tests that want to see how much annoyance you can withstand, how intelligent you are and how many bureaucratic hoops you are willing to jump through in order to finish.
I would never, ever admit this in print, but between you and me, I’m terrified of the future, of what my job prospects as an English major looks like and of how the economy will be after I graduate.
In closing, there is a poem that has kept me motivated when I struggled to find motivation.
It was featured in the 2014 movie Interstellar.
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