Book Bags & Daydreams

My homegirl is leaving for college; my little sis is joining the rest of us in the game of grown up. While she may have to leave dragging her sister on her leg, I am more than thrilled to see her set out to find herself through college life. Upon request, I have compiled a "wish I had known in college" list. As her older sister, {can I disguise my mockery of any supposed superiority?} I feel it my duty to pass on what little foresight and wisdom I've gained from a series of mistakes and oversights I've committed over the course of four years at BYU, as well as a sliver of instances which have proven a marginal cleverness, on my part. If you, my blog readers, have any little tidbits or words of advise for her, don't hesitate to comment. We'd love to hear from you!

1. Find the stellar Professors. As you peruse the courses you will be taking, and begin signing up for classes, do not, as I did, choose classes according to scheduling convenience and location preference alone. Do you want to know a secret? Who you learn from is of more importance than the subject, the location, even the hour {if barbaric it be}. No lie.

Yes. Jogging, heavy laden with 4 massive textbooks, to the boonies of campus - beating the 15-minute increment between far-too-early-morning classes in the frigidity of a winter morning, for an obscure Botany class having little to do with your major is well worth one hour of pure brilliance and an inspirational lecture given by a stellar professor. {One sentence. cachow}
Good professors, the ones with passion, the ones who really make you think, have you re-examining everything you once held to be true, are few and far between. Find them.
2. Once you have found them, Get to know your professors. They know what it's like to be a student, they know how the system works, and they are more than happy to help you out with job hunting, career advice, navigating the university system, and especially make great references for jobs and graduate school. They can be part of the network you are creating while at college. But the funny thing about it is that you actually have to talk to them.
Don't be intimidated by them. They chose to work with college students for a reason. I only put this into action my final two years at college. It all began when I asked my professor what he thought about the function of time stoppage in Dicken's novels, and inquired about the use of it in a term paper I was working on. My life was never the same since. After the first paper assignment given by every professor I found to be worth getting to know, I would stop by their office for help, advise and counsel. Wish I'd discovered this a bit earlier. Get to know them. They may lead you to victories you had not thought possible.

3. It's okay to fail (or get a D). Do you want to know my deep, dark, terrible secret? I got a C on my first test in college. It was HEPE (lifestyle management), of all things! I thought my academic life was O-V-E-R. Sometimes it takes the brunt of the fall in order to have a new perspective, seeing the world from the ground.

Sure, I moved on, but I made many future course decisions based on which classes I thought I would do well in. What a stupid thing to do! Imagine all of the interesting classes I never considered because I thought I might not get a good grade. Never let fear hold you back from trying something new or different. Fear of falling impedes our ability to grow.

4. Study your brains out. Whether this frightens or comforts you, good grades still carry much weight in your post-college life. The philosophy that got me through college: give it the very, very best you have, and you will have no regrets, no matter the consequences {which, if truly followed, I found to be rather agreeable}. This meant living in the library during midterms and finals, caffeinated all-nighters to perfect a paper, becoming familiar with the resources the library offers, strategizing testing techniques for the varying styles of your professors, or monitoring the availability of prime study spots. This means losing yourself in facts, figures, meticulous notes, and diagrams. It also means the satisfaction of leaving them with their jaws dropped. Amaze them. Show them what you're made of.
5. Study sessions add a good 30% onto your test grade. Does this seem at all exaggerated to you? Think about it. The mind can imprint information twice as accurately when verbally reiterated. Organize them yourself, round up a group of fellow serious students, bring your work and research to the table, and pound it out until you are ready to teach this stuff to the professor himself.
6. Ben & Jerry are exceptional mentors. When finals get to be so strenuous, let them pass along their great wisdom on to you. Long have they been and continue to be good friends of mine.

7. EBSCO. You will love it yet.

8. This is sort of a glad-I-unintentionally-stumbled-upon-making-this-decision word of advise. DO NOT skip living in the shabby, ghetto dorms with more people than it should be legal to live with. It will be one of the best years of your life.
9. Consider working on an individual project with a professor. I really wish I had done that.

10. Intern. Somewhere. Anywhere. Boy have I loved my internship. I only wish I had done this when I could have used it toward credit.

11.Study abroad. An opportunity to traipse across Italy, Paris, London, Africa, Jerusalem with fellow adventurers? It's criminal to pass up. My 2009 study abroad experience in London had me pinching myself to be sure I wasn't dreaming. It is worth doing everything in your power to make this a reality. There is simply no better time in your life to travel the world, become part of something so new and be lost in a different culture. Don’t assume it is too expensive or you don’t have the time. Look into the options your university offers to travel or study abroad. It may not be as expensive or difficult as you think. The experience will be life-changing, and a differentiator on your resume. Study Abroad. See the world. Now is the time. You can never turn back to the best years of your life. Travel. See how something that can make you want to shout across the corridors of the earth can leave you utterly speechless.

As Mark Twain puts it, "Travel is fatal to prejudice, bigotry, and narrow-mindedness....broad, wholesome, charitable views of men and things cannot be acquired by vegetating in one little corner of the earth all one's lifetime.

11. Take advantage of the extraordinary employment available to you on campus. I have grown tremendously in the jobs I've been able to have {here and here}, taking with me list of strong references and dear friends. Be stubborn. Don't stop interviewing until you are face-to-face with an employer who is asking you to join a team you passionately look forward to being a part of.

12. Amplify the experience you are having. If you're in a class you love, write about it, conduct extra research projects, form a side club.

13. Make the most of college. Speak up. Stand out. Take Charge. Be present. Express your opinions. Be heard. Join clubs. Discover yourself. Meet people. Take leadership positions. Volunteer. Make friends. Go to parties. Get involved. Fall in love. Join programs. See speakers. Attend events. Help with activities. Try new things. Embrace the unfamiliar. Explore new worlds. Join student-run programs. Get published. Make mistakes. Take chances. Live.

College can be something you will look back upon with much delight. So, turn off the reality TV shows and do what you came to college to do, learn.

© 2011 by Rachel Lowry. All rights Reserved. {via vi.sualize.us}


  1. So true so true. Amen to the living in shabby, ghetto dorms. That was an awesome year....

  2. Agreed with Rachel. Many of my "unintentional" moments turned out to be my favorites. Great list Rach! Love you! I love both Rachels actually...

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  4. i'm copying this.
    and keeping it forever.
    well. until i graduate.