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Back to college from a recent graduate’s perspective

Point University is back in session and that means that students have returned in droves. There’s more younger faces around downtown West Point and students can be seen around the entirety of the Greater Valley Area.

As someone who has had the pleasure of coming to the VT-N right out of college, my days of academia are still fresh in my mind. The sudden influx of up-and-coming thinkers and do-ers are well equipped at Point for learning and preparing for their future endeavors but, being that I just began those endeavors, I figured I could pass on some advice.

1. Always go to class. It’s an obvious and over-repeated sentiment passed down to you since your earliest days of schooling. Attending classes was always something that was forced upon you, so when the freedom of secondary education becomes available, hitting the snooze button can quickly go from a rarity to a hobby. Sleeping in, hanging out with friends or really doing anything else instead of listening to a lecture definitely sounds appealing, but it can come back to bite you in a big way. College is set up to teach you the necessities of your field and, while every class period may not be vital, keeping up the habit of staying present and taking notes will have you thanking your past self.

2. Get experienced. As stated, Point is doing a great job in helping students prepare, but nothing is a better form of future prep than actual job experience. Internships and side jobs not only look incredible on a resume, they also put you in real world situations that just can’t be simulated in a classroom. Working on deadlines, interacting with other professionals and growing a network are just some of the challenging but infinitely worthwhile bits of knowledge only experience can teach.

3. Enjoy yourself. The latter years of college are about seriously preparing yourself for a career, but it shouldn’t be all work and no play. It is important to take advantage of the time while it lasts, both educationally and — especially — socially. It’s cliché to say that college is the “best four years of your life,” and many would argue the point anyway, but the college years are definitely something to savor. Academia is indeed stressful, but there is still the buffer of having a professor instead of a boss, a coach instead of a department head and a dean instead of a CEO. There is more time for recreation, creativity and the universal challenge of “finding oneself.” College is also a place that aggregates friends and potential-friends to the same place, something that is quickly missed when everyone has to start “real life.”

Graduating is an amazing feeling and starting a job that could turn into a career is exhilarating, but the days of college are something everyone looks back on with similar fondness. Make the most of it, Skyhawks.