Eight things I’ve realized in my final fall semester
We learn so much more than academics during our time here at UIC. Some things you figure out in your first week of classes, some after your freshman year. Still others aren’t apparent until it’s almost all over — until you reach the point at which you really start reflecting back on all the time that has passed and deeply consider every single thing that goes on in your daily UIC life. Here are some of the things that I either finally realized this semester or of which I am officially convinced.
1. It doesn’t matter [to the professor] where you sit in class.
Actually. I’m not lying. A lot of people think that they have to sit in the first few rows or even the front row to show their investment in the course. The further back rows are stigmatized for those who are sleeping, on Twitter or just generally not paying attention. The middle rows just kind of escape without being generalized. All of that aside, it doesn’t matter to your teacher where you sit. What matters is that you go to class and pay attention. You could be in the back row and still be completely attentive. And you can certainly be sleeping in the front of the class. I have seen this. Above all of this, the only thing that truly matters is that you feel comfortable with your seat choice and confident that you are able to get the most out of the class in your seat selection. Worry about yourself, not what others think about where you are sitting. You will always find me in the back of every class, but that doesn’t mean I didn’t take excellent notes.
2. You can make it work in the cafeteria.
Fourth year of cafeteria food at this point. For quite some time, I’ve been working really hard to find healthier options and less heavy meals.There is a way to make it work and a variety of things that can be done to change things up. If you’re tired of the same old options in the cafeteria, get a little bit creative and consider how you can uniquely pair your food in such a way that creates something else. I like getting tuna from the sandwich line and adding it to my spinach from the salad bar. If there is a soup that I like, I will sometimes add rice to it to give it a little something different. In the morning, cut a banana up and add it to your Cheerios. Things like that give your meals a lot more variety, and oftentimes, additional proteins, vegetables, etc.
3. Counselors can help.
For a lot of students, college advising isn’t required after freshman year. It’s fantastic that it is mandatory freshman year, but there are a lot of people who stop going once they don’t have to. Whether it’s your specific major advisor or an LAS advisor (etc.), getting advising is so helpful. I continued to seek advising nearly every semester after freshman year. I wanted someone else to look at the classes I had selected or check out my DARS to tell me if I was on track. And just last week, I sought an LAS advisor to see if I am on track for my May 2015 graduation. I am, and I am thrilled about it! She not only helped me figure out that I was good to go, but she also helped me with understanding how and when to apply for graduation, and showed me a lot of really interesting classes I can take in my last semester. Advising is not just for freshmen.
4. Enjoy the resources that will (for the most part) never be free to you again.
If you stop and think about it, UIC offers a whole lot of things to us just for being students. Whether it be the one that always comes to mind — the rec center — or career planning help or the Counseling Center, there are a ton of different things to take advantage of. Chances are, none of them will be free to you once you graduate from UIC. You probably won’t ever get free access to a gym as nice as UIC’s again or someone you can call and set up an appointment with to help you figure out what job is right for you. Or how about someone you can see (for no cost) for grief counseling or couples counseling? These things aren’t accessible for free to the rest of the world, and one day you will be a part of that “rest of the world.”
5. Have your late nights now because you won’t do that when you have a job.
Ok, you might, but you will probably feel pretty irresponsible about it and exhausted at work the next day. Now is the time to go on late night adventures or stay up and talk to friends. These things really won’t fit in with a grown up schedule besides on the weekend. You can definitely fit a night like this into your schedule. It’s all about making time for what’s important and remembering to have fun. Don’t get too caught up in a schedule that doesn’t allow you to deviate from it.
6. … but don’t make every night a late night.
And while it’s fantastic to have these fun nights, make sure you are having plenty of nights during which you get some sort of a decent amount of sleep. You need to be rested in order to do your best at everything, so don’t push yourself every single night and stay awake. I’ve gotten some of my best sleep here at school. Make sure to get your work done so that you can sleep!
7. Do what you want.
I’ve talked about this before. It’s so important to experience everything you want to because the time you have here will pass by so quickly. If something interests you, make a move to make it happen. Don’t put it off until next year…never do that. Because what if that opportunity isn’t available next time you are looking for it? Seize every opportunity that interests you. Go everywhere you are even thinking about going, because believe you me — soon enough, your time will be limited and you’ll be trying to cram everything into the last few moments.
8. 8AM classes are just like real life.
Sure, I understand the whole “enjoy it while you can” concept when it comes to making a nice schedule and allowing for naps throughout your day. But having 8am classes as a freshman or sophomore reminds you of high school, and having 8ams as a junior or senior is just a little taste of the professional world. Chances are you will be going in to your entry level job (and even plenty of jobs after that) around 8am. So why not be realistic and prepare yourself for what’s in store? Or at least if you have the class, realize that this is very much like what you will be experiencing FOREVER in years to come. So sure, go ahead and make a fabulous schedule where your classes don’t start until noon. But just remember that you’re probably not going to be able to have these crazy-flexible hours at a job.
Holly Brenza is a senior majoring in English and minoring in communications and management. In her spare time, Holly enjoys playing with her puppy, Bear, and watching the Blackhawks and White Sox, reading and trying out new recipes. After graduation, she hopes to work in public relations.