3 things I’ve learned since coming to NIU

By Anthony Szudarski

Making the transition into college life is always a bit confusing. There are things you just can’t expect and have no idea how to prepare for from life in high school. Luckily, making mistakes is a part of life and often the best way we learn.

Just in case you want to try and avoid making some mistakes, here are three of the most important things I’ve learned since coming to NIU:

1. You can do it alone, but it’s better if you don’t.

You’re an adult. You are the master of your life and you can do everything by yourself if you want, and there’s a good chance you’ll succeed. But that’s no way to live your life. I spent much of my freshman year just doing things by myself. I opted out of working in groups when I could avoid it, and when it was mandatory I did just my fair share and didn’t remember anyone’s name. I didn’t participate in class and ended up missing out on a lot of good times and friendships because of this. I can admit my GPA was better because of it, but I was miserable.

My advice: Talk to strangers, join a club or go to the many random events held on campus. You can be successful by yourself, but if you’re anything like me, you probably won’t be happy.

2. Don’t rush trying to get into the “Real World.”

Sure, college costs money… well, a lot of money. But you have the rest of your life to make it all back. Worrying about student debt and how we’re going to pay for the next semester is always going to be an issue for some of us. Don’t let it scare you into trying to get out of school sooner, though. I have no fantasy that this is going to change everyone’s mind. Some of you are dedicated to taking you’re classes, getting your degree and get out of here. That’s all fine and dandy, but there are great times to be had during your stay at NIU, no matter how brief that stay is. In the words of Ferris Bueller, “Life moves pretty fast. If you don’t stop and look around once in a while, you could miss it.”

3. Now is what matters.

We’ve all made mistakes in the past, and we’re all going to make plenty more in the future. There’s no getting around this. Don’t let mistakes you’ve made in the past or the fear of making future mistake prevent you from being awesome. The great thing about NIU is that there are roughly 20,000 students enrolled. There is no way all of them will know who you are, so who cares if you trip walking out of a classroom? What does it matter if you make a fool of yourself trying to talk to that cute girl or guy at the Huskies Den? Chances are you’ll never see those people again if you don’t want to. So have fun, don’t worry about some goofup you did last week and don’t freak out about the possibility of doing it again.

Some of you might have already learned these lessons the hard way, or maybe you have different lessons NIU has taught you. The beautiful thing about this community is you will learn so much outside of the classroom; you just have to be ready for it.