Art by Sybil Zhang
Remember NSO when no one knew what DTR stood for or how the shuttle system worked? We’ve learned a lot, we’ve grown and we’ve definitely never been late because of the shuttle. But just because no one has to ask where the CAC is anymore doesn’t mean we all couldn’t use some advice. Don’t be concerned about trying to have everything figured out during college, especially during the first two years, and take some advice from the PGM staff to make the most of the college experience.
Friendships are going to be an invaluable resource for everything that college might bring. From stress about the future to frustration about homework, other students are the only people who can truly relate. A student’s family might be hundreds of miles, or even an entire ocean away, so a strong group of friends can begin to act as a family and support system.
Finding the right friends can be a challenge. During the first year, the average freshman probably spends the most time around their suite mates and roommates. Sometimes this is fantastic and other times not so much. If suite mates don’t turn out to be lifelong friends, that’s OK. Pepperdine might be a small school, but there are plenty of places to find friends. It’s just about looking in the right places.
Since two-thirds of Pepperdine students go abroad, the pressure to do so is high, but the truth is that not everyone does. Similarly, not everyone enjoys every second of their abroad experience. Abroad can be the most wonderful time during college, but don’t feel pressure to fit into the stereotype.
For students who do go abroad, have a good time. Try new things, enjoy learning about a new culture and try not to miss home too much. Students who go abroad never stop talking about it because it’s life changing. At the same time, be realistic about time, money and exhaustion.
For students who choose not to go abroad, make use of your time in Malibu. Since most of the students who go abroad are sophomores, it can be easy to feel left out or left behind when friends start posting pictures of Big Ben or “Mona Lisa” on social media. However, there is no reason not to have adventures right here. Los Angeles is less than an hour away and offers a world of new experiences and culture at every corner.
During the first two years, students’ schedules are inundated with General Education requirements (and it can sometimes feel that way for what seems like an entire college career). However, GE’s should not be treated as boxes waiting to be checked off a long list of to-dos.
Instead, GE’s should be celebrated due to their ability to foster the discovery of new subjects and ways of thinking. Although not all GE’s may seem appealing, they can force students outside of their comfort zones and enable them to uncover newfound interests, potential career paths and passions.
Be willing to try classes that seem interesting but don’t feel pressured to cram 18 units in every semester to do so. Some semesters will be lighter than others and that’s OK. The courses that are the most enjoyable oftentimes end up leading to a major. If this is the case, don’t be afraid to talk to professors and ask about their experience in the field.
Life post-grad can seem like a far off place for freshmen and sophomores and the concept of a “Four-Year Plan” can come off as daunting. However, do not fall into the trap of thinking one’s four-year plan is set in stone the moment NSO ends. People change, interests change, majors change and, ultimately, plans change. The point of college is to determine a career path and enjoy doing so in the process.
Don’t question yourself after listening to the people who confidently say what their major (or double major with a minor in fill in the blank) is. It takes time to get to that point and even upon arrival, it can turn into something completely different. For students who have an idea of the future, talk to advisers and professors, and look into internships to gain real-life experience in the field. For students who have no idea what their vocation is, do the same thing.
The first two years of college aren’t designed for everyone to have it all figured out. If they were, college would not be a four-year (or more) process. There is always time. Try not to get too bogged down by friendships, the decision to go abroad, which courses to take or future planning and miss out on all the excitement college has to offer.
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