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Heading Off To College: Starting the Next (Hopefully) 4 Years

Heading Off To College: Starting the Next (Hopefully) 4 Years

With people beginning to head off to college in the next couple days and the month ahead, I figured now was the perfect time to write this blog.

One comment that I always get when meeting people through photography events is “You’re so young! How old are you?” Well, the answer to that is young enough that I just graduated college this past June! Being fresh out of college, I hope that what I write resonates with you all because the advice is relevant to what I went through these past four years.

College is time that you’ll never get back in your life. It’s a time for you to get out and figure out what you want from life personally, career wise and more. It’s a time where you have little to worry about besides focusing on yourself. With that said, here are a few things that I wished had been made more apparent to me when I was starting out.

Disclaimer: Parents, if you’re reading this, don’t hate me. 🙂 These are just my personal thoughts on the subject.

Don’t Get Set on Pursuing That “One Perfect Major”

One of the mistakes that I believe a lot of people make is being set on only pursuing that “one perfect major” that they think will bring them security whether that be job or financial security. While these things might feel like they bring you happiness, if you’re not happy doing what you are doing for a job, this will become a drain on you over time. If you truly are passionate about pursuing a career that does bring you this – fantastic! Just don’t feel like this is the path you have to take simply because it’s the safe route.

The last is to stop worrying about security in terms of having a socially acceptable job. Stop with this notion right now. The minute that you stop caring what others think or say about you the minute that you’ll learn to pursue what truly makes you happy. Some of the most successful people that you know of are individuals who didn’t go the safe route and went a route doing something that brings them exponential happiness despite others telling them not to.

I’ll be the first to stand by this. I originally was on the pre-med track in college. I never thought I would be running my own photography business. But here I am four years later, working for myself, getting to meet and tell stories for incredible individuals and doing what I love day in and day out. It isn’t what I thought I would be doing, but I don’t regret making this move for a single second.

What’s great about being young is that you have so little tying you down. You have time to figure out what makes you happy and figure out what you want to do in life while being able to keep your expenses low. There’s always time to go the safe route. Don’t regret not doing something you think will bring you extreme happiness just because there’s risk to it. Like the old saying, “the greater the risk, the bigger the reward.”

College is About Opportunity

College holds so many opportunities for you. Whether it’s taking that summer internship and getting to live in a new city or getting to skip class and meet an individual that you have admired while they’re speaking at your school or in your area, don’t miss out! These are opportunities that might not come again and you never know how this might change your path. While it might not seem like the best move short term, these are opportunities that might pay off big in the long run and ultimately change your life (or at least give you a memorable experience that will become a story that you’ll tell for years to come).

Some of the best memories in college were spontaneous decisions like booking a trip abroad, going to that concert that I had always wanted to hear a band for, missing class to go meet one of my now mentors, or whatever else it might be. While they didn’t necessarily enrich my academic life, they enriched my friendships or personal life in some way and these experiences helped me grow as a person.

 

Who You Are In High School Isn’t Who You’ll Be After College

Forget about high school. I don’t mean to be rude, but no one cares if you were captain of the volleyball team that won a state championship, no one cares if you got a 1600 on your SAT and no one cares if you did amazing things in high school. You and your peers are all in the same place now. You all have the same opportunities as everyone else. While you might want to talk about everything you accomplished in high school, take this time to make new strides in college.

I am friends with individuals who have been on the university football and basketball teams on scholarship, who have done amazing research or even have gone on to do other incredible things. It doesn’t matter what your credentials are or what groups you’re a part of. There isn’t the “cool” group in college like there is in high school. The best thing about this is that it isn’t about what you’ve accomplished but friendships are based on who you are as a person. Friendships in college are formed over deeper things like how you treat others, what you believe in and is more than just about what you can see on the surface level.

Take this time to find friends that have similar interests, diverse interests, beliefs similar to yours, beliefs that are dissimilar to yours and friends that you ultimately have fun with.

And lastly…

Don’t look back four years from now and wish that you had done something. Learn to go for it. Regret sucks. There are things that I wish that I had done in college that I didn’t, but this taught me lessons along the way. The biggest thing I can tell you is not to let anything slip by that you wish you could have been a part of. Be a part of it.

College is an incredible part of your life and a time unlike any other you will ever experience. Best of luck wherever you are going and enjoy some of the best four years of your life!

Sean

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