By Daniel Garcia
Hindsight is 20/20. If I could go back in time and start my collegiate process over, I totally would. I would try to be a bit subtle about it though; I wouldn’t change too much about my life. I like where I’m at now – about to finish my undergraduate degree – but I wish there were just some things that were pointed out to save myself some heart break.
Life is a struggle of “you” kind of just being a dick and making problems for “future you” sometimes.
“Oh, I’ll get that done tomorrow.”
“I DEFINITELY need to use all my money to buy that…”
“Invading Russia in the winter sounds like a good idea.”
“Okay, ONE more shot.”
It’s too bad future you can’t message you and tell you to stop being a dick.
(Or “current you” messaging “past you.” Time travel is weird.)
Looking back at the past is a great way to measure progress to see how far you’ve come and as a way to learn from any mistakes or experiences. In these past 4 years from college freshman to senior, I’ve had many quarter-life crises and would want to share any gems of wisdom with anyone younger than me. It’s important to share information or tips. It helps everyone grow collectively. While it is important to learn from your own mistakes, you can also learn a lot from mistakes other people make.
I’ve asked a lot of people who are about to graduate what kind of advice they would give themselves 4 years ago. Hope this reaches you, past me.
“I’d tell myself to do what I want while I can and get the opportunity to do so, even if it means putting more stress on yourself. It will be worth it at the end.”
Evelyn (Accounting, St. Francis College)
“Boost your GPA as much as you can when you can.”
“Do not compare your accomplishments to the accomplishments of others. Do not let other individual’s success deter you from your goals.”
Kristie (Biology, St. John’s University)
“Find something that you love and are truly interested in and let whatever that is take you to great places. I would also remind myself to truly focus and make school a priority BUT remember that you are only this young once so live it up. Travel. Make good friends. Try new things. Be bold and step out of your comfort zone. Make college and any other experience you encounter rewarding and memorable.”
Lauren (Psychology, St. Francis College)
“Don’t worry so much about having the perfect plan. Go at your own pace but work hard and trust that everything will fall into place the way it’s supposed to. Don’t compare your progress to everyone else’s timeline.”
Anonymous (Marketing, St. John’s University)
“Be confident and proud of what you have accomplished – even if it doesn’t come easy.”
Sabrina (Education, SUNY Oneonta)
“Accept any slap in the face someone wants to give you. Metaphoric or realistic.”
Conor (Queens College)
“Push past your obstacles. Find sources that will encourage you (family, friends, professors) and urge you to keep going. Don’t be afraid to go out of your comfort zone; in fact, go out of your comfort zone.”
Anonymous (History/English, Queens College)
“Don’t beat yourself down because of all the negativity surrounding you. It’s all temporary and soon you will find someone who will accept you for who you are and love being around you.”
“To not stress about one grade, and to manage my time better. Ask questions to more classmates.”
“Start things early. You got so caught up in thinking so much stuff wasn’t worth doing. It’s not cool not caring. All that stress and anxiety you had went away when you started doing productive things. Do them, push yourself, and find your creative outlet early.”
“Work hard at school and your job but don’t forget to take care of yourself or else you’ll burn yourself out. Make time to see friends and do things you enjoy. Prioritize your health and happiness.”
Anna (Biology, Queens College)
“Take advantage of this learning period – ask questions, discuss, and engage with your colleagues.”
“Get involved with clubs, organizations, sports, and etc. Make time to do internships so that you can get a feel for what you want to do after you graduate. Lastly, be open-minded and look for opportunities to grow and learn!”
Anonymous (Marketing/Management, Baruch College)
“If I could talk to my 18 year old self that summer going into college I would have told her to be strong and never let anyone talk her out of doing something she believed in. Never apologize for who you are; anyone that asks you to apologize is not worth your time. I would have told her not to let anyone discourage her, because those are the times when you find yourself facing regret. Remember that everyone is different, and no one is good at everything. Don’t give up when things get hard, you can’t always do everything but if you want something go get it. Take your time don’t spread yourself to thin, and don’t rush into something your unsure of. You’ll find your place it just takes time. Your future is worth the hard work, the tears, and the frustrations. You are more than a GPA. You are strong and talented and worth more than you think.”
Ashley (Studio Art/Psychology, Queens College)
“Being friends with everybody doesn’t mean you’ll be the happiest. Instead, be friends with yourself first.”
Nancy (Marketing, St. John’s University)
“Even if you hate doing things like sports, just join one and put your all into it. And keep doing art, get a tutor earlier on, and lose some weight. It’s okay. The next years are going to be hard, just work hard and set schedules and try and get rid of your phone and social media distractions. You need this more than anything.”
“Put just a bit more time into school, put a lot more time into your art, don’t isolate yourself and start listening to Taylor Swift NOW. Also, don’t be a jerk.”
“Doing well in your courses is REALLLLY easy and totally do-able in retrospect. There is plenty of time for fun and parties (you don’t need to study 24/7), but it’s really not hard to get a 3.7 GPA. Put in some effort goddamit.”
“Join a club!”
“Do what makes you happy, don’t bother trying to please anyone but yourself.”
Anonymous (Television and Film)
“Don’t trust the advisers.”
“Start working on your dreams now, and be as patient as possible.”
Anonymous (Undeclared, UC Irvine)
“Go outside more.”
“Do not buy all the recommended textbooks. You will waste so much money! You can find free versions online, or just loan them from the library. Also, no matter how hungover/tired you are, it is always better to go to class. Even if you sleep for half of the lecture, it will be more valuable than trying to catch up by yourself.”
“Experience college in its full entirety. Don’t be afraid to tell someone no. Explore more of the city and try different foods. Join organizations that you love and learn when you need to leave.”
Anscia (Marketing, St. John’s University)
“Try not to be too focused on one thing. It’s good to have a balanced life, and while being passionate about something is good, enjoying all aspects of life (even simple things like a Friday night with friends or trying a new type of restaurant) can be just as fulfilling.”
I definitely recommend taking the time to see how far you’ve come if you’re about to take the next steps in your life. Whether that means graduating, dropping out, or starting something new, you’ll be surprised at how far you’ve come.
If you’d want to submit your own piece of advice, or are looking for any, contact me.