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Advice for New College Students From a Recent GradCambria Pilger
This past winter break, I rediscovered one of my favorite childhood board games: Clue. As everyone knows, Clue is a game of discovery, the goal being to find out the details of a crime (who’s guilty, the weapon, and where it happened).
When starting Clue, each player is given a few hints but nobody really knows anything. Throughout the game, each player goes through a process of pursuing possibilities, forming and altering opinions, and sometimes abruptly changing directions on the board to hasten towards another goal — until, at the very end, the winner arrives at the correct solution.
As I’ve come to realize, college is a process of self-discovery, with plenty of twists and turns along the way. Looking back at my first few years of college, I can see that the experience wasn’t at all what I expected it to be. However, my hopes for my senior year in 2021–22 feel much more accurate to my true self compared to the expectations I carried with me when I started.
If you asked 18-year-old me what I thought my senior year of college would look like, here’s what I would have said: I’ll be a successful chemistry student, preparing to work in a lab after college. I’ll have a leadership role in a sorority, helping continue the strong legacy of sisterhood. Finally, I’ll be involved socially, filling every free hour with campus activities and events.
I grew up thinking I was meant to study something science-related; the idea of being a woman in STEM fascinated and motivated me. Yet when I got to my university and enrolled in my first college chemistry and calculus classes, I quickly realized that my heart wasn’t in it enough to be able to push through for four years.
I’ll never forget the pit burning holes through my stomach when I found out I’d failed my first test. My expectation for myself collapsed, but I clung to the thrill I felt from being a trailblazer in STEM, shifting that energy to explore a new interest in political science.
Similarly, my hope to be involved in a sorority shattered after students at my school created a movement to abolish Greek life because of its racist and sexist impacts on the community. Disaffiliation was the only option for me. While I’ve remained committed to this decision, it left me confused about what legacy I could leave behind if this wasn’t it.
Lastly, my hope to be socially involved hasn’t necessarily ended, but it has changed because of the COVID-19 pandemic. Being involved no longer looks like attending football games or campus concerts.
My hopes for senior year are more like personal goals instead of objective expectations. I won’t graduate with a chemistry degree, but I hope to finish strong academically with confidence in my abilities as I move forward. I am now a triple major, majoring in Political Science, Spanish and Medicine Health and Society. The liberal arts classes I once took to fulfill humanities requirements now fill my schedule.
I am still inspired by human rights, social justice and feminism — but instead of a STEM career I hope to attend law school after college!
I am currently involved in the Women in Government club and a tutoring club that offers tutors to high school students who don’t have access to individualized help. In the coming year, I hope to explore how these involvements can positively affect my campus as I prepare to leave. Additionally, by disaffiliating from my sorority, I hope that I have created a more accepting and inclusive environment at my school than what existed before.
Finally, even with fewer organized social events, I hope to live in the moment and cherish the time I have with my friends and classmates as much as possible. Now more than ever, I’ve learned to appreciate living and learning with the passionate and driven people I have found at my school.
Clue has taught me that it is never too late in the game to discover something new.
College move-in is approaching! Help your student prepare by making sure they have everything they need for a successful freshman year.