Although they were not able to finish out their senior year as expected, AU’s class of 2020 did not leave campus without leaving a legacy. A handful of these 2020 graduates were asked to give their best advice for current college students. Their responses are below.
“There’s a cliché that says ‘college goes by fast, enjoy it while you can,’ and it’s true. Make sure to take time to appreciate all the amazing moments because you never know when it might be cut short.”
“College students, be open to new things. Going to a small liberal arts college provides an amazing opportunity to try something new whether it is a sport, an activity, a social club or even changing your major. Especially with some weird years of college to come, if you are able to be flexible and walk through your career with arms open, you will find success, new friends and new passions. Good luck, have fun and Soar Ravens Soar.”
“Face your fear of going to social events alone. I know it’ll feel awkward, going to some campus event by yourself, but you’ll never meet people if you don’t put yourself out there. I’ve gone to social events alone and met several people who have stayed my close friends to this day. Have courage. God will lead you to the right people.”
“My advice for current college students is to be as engaged as possible. During COVID this may be hard to do with some of my favorite events and groups, but I still recommend calling and texting as many people as you can to build a great community. In addition, Anderson, Indiana is one of my favorite cities. There are lots of great places to see, lots of great people to meet and lots of great places to eat.”
“Don’t be afraid to take mental health days. Burning out by letting classes become everything is easy, but it’s important to look out for yourself mentally and spiritually. Good luck this year!”
“My advice is to invest everything you can into relationships with people and get as involved as possible. Yes, class work is very important, and whatever time you have to throw yourself out there and push yourself to grow in things outside of class is worth it. As well as creating connections with faculty, staff and other students, is so beneficial for future support and opportunities after you graduate. Even if you think you are ready to move on and graduate, and you may be, you will miss some things about AU that you probably won’t find in many other places. So appreciate every little second pretending to do homework with friends, every walk through the valley, whatever the season, every chance to laugh and grow with some awesome people and all the other good things surrounding you in the moment. It’s worth cherishing.”
“As an AU graduate, I would advise students to be comfortable with changing your plans. Graduating in 2020 taught me that there are some times in life when your plans don’t pan out the way you expect them to. I used it as an opportunity to grow personally, and I would advise others to do the same.”
“As a recent college graduate, I would advise current college students to gain as much experience in their desired field as possible. Take every feasible opportunity to broaden your experience and fill up your resume.”
“As you begin or continue college, be sure that you have set specific goals for yourself. There are so many rewarding experiences and challenging opportunities available to you at college. This array of options can be both overwhelming and exciting. It is important to realize that not all of the options available are ones that you need to pursue. Determining which ones are worth your time and effort requires serious consideration of your priorities. For example, do you want to prioritize relationships and service to the community? Or are you in a place where it’s most important to focus on your own mental and physical well being so that you can later on serve others to the best of your ability? Do you want to prioritize academic excellence because of a desire to continue your education after undergraduate? Or would you rather focus on building your career through a variety of practical internship opportunities or by expanding your field of connections through networking?
None of these choices are zero-sum. You can choose more than one, and seek out opportunities that fulfill two or more of your priorities. The important thing is that you don’t see every opportunity presented to you as necessary for your well being or your success. You will find the most success and fulfillment when you discover who you are and who you want to be, and then choose your opportunities accordingly.”
“My advice for current college students is take in each moment. You don’t realize it while it’s happening, but the four years you spend on that campus goes by so quickly. I wish I had stopped at some points and just taken everything in. You never know when it’ll be the last time to have dinner with your friends, ‘be productive’ at Mocha’s or sit through another chapel. It may sound cliché, but those small moments help shape you into the adult you’re becoming.
And as always, never be afraid to smile at someone you pass on campus. A smile can change someone’s entire day.”
“My advice would be to never fear failing. Everyone will fail at some point. Failing just sets the stage for an epic comeback story.”
“Make your own opportunities. If you are looking for something and it doesn’t seem to exist, make it happen yourself. Most likely you aren’t the only person who has seen the need, but you may be the first person to do something about it. Also just a general rule: be so kind and gracious to everyone always.”
“I would say as an AU grad to current college students, to take advantage of your close contact with professors at AU. The professors love their students and are always looking for opportunities to network and build communities whenever they can. Go to office hours, email them and ask questions if you ever have any.”
“I would definitely say to not be afraid to reach out and connect to professors. It’s a better way to get to know them and they to get to know you. That way they will be able to give good advice and excellent references because they know who you are.”