Advice for first-year students

Photo courtesy of The Butler Collegian.

JOE KRISKO | ASSISTANT NEWS EDITOR | jkrisko@butler.edu

I’m starting to write this article in the same way I have every other during my last couple of years with the Collegian — later than I should and questioning how I got myself into writing another story in the first place. After all, I am a business major. No one is forcing me to continue to write and meet — or try to meet — deadlines every week.

Perhaps because of this, I have repeatedly gotten the same question over the years: “Why did you join the Collegian?” Every time I have given a different answer. Maybe it was just because I needed something to add to my resume. Maybe it was some more noble desire to support journalism and facts in a time when both were under attack. But the truth is, I still don’t really know exactly why I made the decision to join the Collegian almost two and a half years ago.

The more important question, though, is why I decided to stay. I have to admit something that my fellow Collegianites might not know: after my first semester at the paper, I was ready to quit.

I had quickly learned that this was not something I could just toss on my resume; it actually required some work. Writing content week after week alongside extremely talented and creative student journalists while also keeping up with classes had quickly become overwhelming. However, because I hated the idea of giving up on something I had just started, I promised myself I would stick it out for just one more semester.

I started to gain confidence in myself and my writing from the support of my fellow writers and editors, and one semester turned into two. As I started to learn how to communicate through the beautiful — and at times tedious — medium of writing and was given space to express creativity I didn’t know I had, one year turned into two years. Now, approaching graduation and more open-minded, adaptable, inspired and assertive than I ever was before, I am still here.

As promised in the headline, reflecting on this enriching experience has given me some advice to pass along to current first-year students starting their college journey in a pandemic. 

Looking back, it’s not the late nights spent painfully transcribing every detail of an interview for the Collegian, or the early mornings spent interviewing a source that could only meet at 7 a.m. that one remembers. It’s not the all-nighters spent cramming for finals or your GPA that will end up being truly meaningful. After all is said and done, what you will remember most is the people you spent the highs and lows of your college adventure with.

I will remember the time spent with the roommate I was randomly placed with sophomore year, who I still live with to this day and can now call a friend for life. I will remember my other suitemates with whom, because of a forgotten running shower, I shared a Fairview pod, along with some mold and the constant noise of an industrial humidifier. From the people I traveled halfway around the world with for an internship in Singapore, to the people I only talked to in class — and even those people I had the most awkward encounters with at Playfair — the experiences we had together are the ones which will live on in our memories forever.

At the risk of sounding like an Oscars acceptance speech, I must also acknowledge the faculty and staff whose impact on me also left a permanent mark. To my career mentor and academic advisor, who helped me realize it wasn’t necessary to have an existential crisis every other week my sophomore year just because I didn’t know what to major in. To my professors, who went above and beyond through countless hours spent with me in their offices and in classrooms, showing me the value of learning something new and challenging my beliefs, even during a global pandemic. To people like Ms. Denise, who could brighten any student’s day with a simple smile. Your hard work, intelligence, empathy and passion did not go unnoticed — thank you.

Despite the social distancing, online classes and masks which make it nearly impossible to recognize someone you just met, make an effort to find those people. Put yourself out there and try new things. Whether it’s through groups like the Collegian, classmates, suitemates or even your Zoom crush from your FYS, surround yourself with people that will support you and help you become a better you. While I personally didn’t meet my best friend in the smoothie line at Plum Market, it doesn’t hurt to take every possible opportunity to create and nurture the relationships that could last for the rest of your time at Butler. I promise it will make it all worthwhile.

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