Tips From a College Senior

It’s my last first day of school! I’m feeling particularly sentimental about the fact that this is my final year, so for all you incoming freshmen and high school readers, I thought I’d share a few of things I’ve picked up along the way:

  • Learn to ask for help

Everyone talks about how college forces you to become independent, but personally, college taught me how to ask for what I need. These four years are for you to invest in yourself and really make the most of the resources available to you. There’s this quote I really love from the poet Diane Di Prima: “You can have what you ask for. Ask for everything.” Whether you’re seeking mentorship, emotional support, or academic guidance, there is someone (and in many cases, an entire designated team) at Illinois waiting to help. Ask for everything.

  • Have a Plan B

I can’t count how many times things have failed to go according to plan during my college career. It’s a blessing and a curse. Although in the moment, it often feels like the latter. Circumstances will change, and more importantly, you will change. My advice is to learn to embrace the uncertainty, and always have a backup plan in mind. For example, during my sophomore year, I applied for a competitive academic program in the College of Business. When I was rejected, I was devastated; but I had done some contingency planning. I chose to pursue another technical major and study abroad instead. Had I been admitted into that particular program, I would’ve never had the opportunity to go to Hong Kong. This is a somewhat extreme example and not all backup plans entail jetting off to Asia for a semester, but my point is, it’s important to be adaptable, open-minded, and aware of your options.

Choosing to study abroad in Hong Kong was arguably one of the most random decisions I’ve made in college, but I wouldn’t trade the experience for anything.

  • Take pictures

My biggest regret is that I have very few photos from my freshman year. I mean I probably have a dozen food pictures that I Instagrammed at various points, but none of my freshman dorm, the Quad in autumn, or the snowman I built with my friend the first time it snowed. I doubt senior citizen Ria will have any interest in the numerous grilled cheese photos that college Ria took…she’d want to see the good stuff! It’s possible that I’m just terribly lazy when it comes to documenting memories, but I’d definitely encourage all of you to put in a little more effort than I did. Future you will be grateful!

Seriously, nobody needs this many sandwich photos!

And with that, I’ll get off of my soapbox. I can’t wait to see what this final year brings, and I’m so excited to share the ups and downs with all of you. Go Illini!

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