Incoming Freshman vs. Outgoing Senior

Going in to college I was a bright-eyed Freshman just like the little boy from Up. I had extremely high hopes of college being vastly different from high school. I imagined a world where I would have lots of friends who I would stay up late with discussing Philosophy, politics and occasionally fashion. I dreamed of challenging classes with passionate professors – just like I saw on TV. I had dreamed of college since I was 9; and on that first day of classes my dream was finally coming true.

That is, until I quickly realized that college was EXACTLY like high school except there were no parents around to make kids get to class on time or do their homework, so it was almost worse. Classes were fairly easy and professors seemed to have very little expectations of their students except for the occasional hated professor who actually expected their students to perform well; those professors were always my favorite. By my Sophomore year, I had fully accepted college wasn’t going to match up to my dreams and I slowly started to morph into the Grumpy Old Man from UP.

As I entered my Senior year, I had pretty high hopes of graduating with my super fancy college degree and being able to quickly get a job I loved. A few weeks before graduation, reality set in. I had graduated at the height of the recession in Dec. 2009 and there simply weren’t the kinds of jobs I wanted, at least not in Asheville where I lived. I was resigned to working at a salon until I could get the heck outta Dodge. Needless to say, at graduation I was the bitter old man…and I wish that weren’t the case.

Looking back, I wish that someone had told me that college was about building relationships, not getting the highest grades. There’s a saying, “It’s not the grades you make, but the hands you shake” that is so true and I only wish someone would have drilled that into me before I left for school. I would have spent more time partying and meeting new people…actually making those friends that I had imagined I would make. I would have taken more Spring Break trips instead of working through the time off. I probably would have joined more clubs, done more theater, participated in more protests, danced more, laughed more and had way more fun. I took myself way too seriously in college, and instead of being bitter, I want to help other students and recent graduates make the most out of their experiences.

Which , I guess, is why I’m sharing this. I want this short blog post to be the gentle reminder that a current college kid needs to stop taking him or herself so seriously. Work hard and try to get good grades, but don’t forget about the stuff that matters. Have fun in school and meet as many people as you can. Follow your heart throughout school and do what you feel is right for you, not what you think will land you the best job after graduation.

Go have an adventure,

Staci Ann

(Photo credit:


Staci Ann is half the brains behind Beyond the Diploma. She’s made it her personal mission to help other 20-something recent graduates find and follow their passions in non-traditional ways. She loves her generation (#GenAwesome) and wants to help make this the best generation ever! Start following your passion; enter your email to get FREE weekly updates on how to make your dreams come true and start traveling the world in 2013.

2 thoughts on “Incoming Freshman vs. Outgoing Senior

  1. thebettermanprojects says:


    I just graduated and I feel you on everything with this post! Great work it was pretty cool to read some of the insights you have come across. I look forward to continue reading what you have to say. College was a great experience with a lot of different lessons learned. You definitely got it right with “its the hands you shake.” You could say it a gain 100 times.

    Evan – The Better Man Projects

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s