By now you are probably fully immersed in the uniquely Notre Dame culture and traditions. So in true Fighting Irish fashion let’s do a recap of the first quarter of your “big game,” otherwise known as freshman year of college. You have earned the right to take a moment to celebrate your achievements so far. There have been a variety of challenges presented for you to navigate through this year including:
• Learning how to successfully manage your time
• Developing new skills for balancing relationships with friends and family
• Surviving South Bend weather
• Discovering positive activities that help you relax
• Understanding the personalities and expectations of your professors
• Adapting to all the logistics of your new life at your “Home Under the Dome”
Hopefully, by now you are feeling much more comfortable than when this school year began. This summer would probably be a good time to reflect on how things are going for you and identify any changes in the “game plan” that you may need to make.
When I think back on my first year of college, one thing that stands out is how fast it seemed to go by. By the time May came, I was really ready for some downtime to review how I felt about the ups and downs of my overall experience. I was in the same spot as you are now: preparing to move on from First Year of Studies and declaring a major, choosing my courses and settling into a specific college within the University.
This brought up so many questions for me. What do I really want to study and pursue? Am I doing my best and being successful in my classes? Do I need to develop better study habits and time management? Have I thought about other career paths I might want to consider and be good at? Should I change my major or add a minor? Should I try to get more involved next year? What kinds of activities, clubs, and opportunities would I like to find out more about? These questions, and many others kept coming up for me, and I sometimes felt pressure to have ALL the answers. Don’t be afraid to reach out for help in this decision-making process. Your FYS advisor, a favorite professor, trusted family members, or even upperclassman friends who know you and have been through this process themselves. They may be able to give you suggestions or recommendations.
It is important to be open and honest with yourself, and take a realistic look at all the different aspects of your freshman year. Think about whether your academic, social, spiritual, and physical choices are working for you, and helping you get to where you want to go. College is a time of self-exploration and transition, as you continue to form your identity. Take advantage of the summer break to get back in touch with what matters to you, and recharge your batteries for the coming year.
I spent some time identifying goals I wanted to accomplish over the summer and in the fall when I got back to ND. Be specific about your goals, and write them down. Your goals should be challenging, but still achievable. As a graduating senior, I want to pass on some advice. Create a “Notre Dame Bucket List”, and enjoy doing all the things on it starting right now, rather than waiting until your senior year.
I am sure that you have accomplished many things so far in your college career. If you are going back home for the summer, try to find an opportunity to engage in some enriching work or internship experience, and perhaps get involved in community service work. Whatever you do, give it your best effort, and make the most of it. When you come back in the fall, jump in and follow your passion as you begin the next chapter of your college life. This is your time — and there are so many experiences waiting for you. Good Luck!