For those of you who have followed the blog since we started last summer, you are just a few weeks away from stepping on campus as a college student. The GCC Counselors wanted to take a moment to congratulate you again on your admission and thank you for giving us the opportunity to get to know you through this process. On a daily basis, we are amazed that we have the privilege to connect with such incredible students. We’re encouraged by your energy, hard work, and commitment to your faith, and we are so excited to witness the impact you will have on this campus community.
Here are a few words of advice and encouragement as you prepare to join us shortly…
Like many of you reading this now, high school came very easy to me. I put in minimal work and still graduated in the top 10% in my class. This overconfident attitude carried over as I began my freshman year at Grove City College. Let me tell you, I wish someone would have told me that college academics require work, no matter how gifted you are. My first semester was pretty rough. It all came to a head when my freshman roommate asked me “When do you study?” I didn’t end up on academic probation, but I received the lowest grades in my scholastic career that semester and spent the next three and a half years trying to recover. College is by far the best four years of your life, but make sure you set up proper study habits from the beginning to ensure success and a whole lot less stress.
If I could tell summer-before-college-Kate one thing, I would tell her to pray for and work towards keeping a good balance and perspective of work and leisure: don’t let either one consume the other. Instead, view college as a season to establish good habits that will be the foundation for the rest of your adult life and pray daily for wisdom about what that balance means and what faithfulness looks like each day! Honestly, practices and habits that I made a priority in college have been easier to incorporate post-college…and vice versa too. But, viewing college as a season and an invaluable time to prepare and build on that foundation would have served me well!
My seventeen year old self was pretty excited at this point of the summer. I was about to leave all I knew on the west coast to attend a college on the east coast. New life, new friendships – it was all very exciting and hopeful. However, when I thought of friendships I thought of the ease of my relationships in high school. What I didn’t think about was that I only really saw my friends during and in between classes. I didn’t live with them. If there is one thing I would go back and share with myself (or with you) is to not take for granted the importance of communication. Communication with your roommates/friends about what you prefer and don’t prefer (even if you have to be honest that you don’t quite know what you prefer yet) about staying up late, how tidy you want the room, whether you expect to eat every meal together, what music should be playing or not playing…the list goes on and on. That’s ok…just communicate. Be open and honest with one another. Don’t assume that the other person understands or knows intuitively what you like or don’t like. Learning this lesson now will help you later as you learn to communicate in general with future co-workers, spouses, friends, and employers. Communication is the key to successful relationships!
When I think about the person I was before my time at Grove City, there are a lot of things I wish I would have known before starting my collegiate career….but on second thought, the process of learning those things was just as valuable as the lesson itself. The one thing I wish I could have grasped right away, though, is how limiting fear can be. Fear is a thief. Fear never gives; it always takes. Fear robs you of the joy to be experienced in all situations and circumstances, because it clouds the abiding peace that Christ came to give you. It will keep you from deep relationships, wonderful experiences, and personal growth. I know it’s impossible to completely shut out all feelings of anxiety and worry. To be afraid of something does not mean you are weak or that you don’t trust God. It’s how you react to fear that is important. The Lord says, “…do not fear for I am with you; do not be dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you; I will uphold you with my righteous hand” (ISAIAH 41:10). Trust that He will give you the strength and help you when fear surrounds you. I remember several moments when I was afraid to take on a leadership role, reach out to someone I didn’t know well, speak up when I had something valuable to add to class discussion, or try a new activity, and the times that I stepped out in trust, the Lord blessed me and provided in wonderful and unexpected ways. Take it from me, he is going to bless the fear right out of you!
Man, if I could go back and talk to my freshman self I would definitely emphasize the importance of hard work. I didn’t take college as seriously as I should have and that really hurt me over those four years. It took me a while to get the hang of studying the way I should have and not procrastinating on all of my work. I would also remind him to have fun though! My best memories were spending time with my friends and all the late night talks we had. College was definitely transformative for me, but I wish I would have figured that out sooner.