Elder wisdom

Graphic By Rainier Pederson | Mercury Staff


Howdy, partner! If you’re reading this, it means you’ve braved the wild west of college applications, survived your first dust-storm of financial aid meetings and set up your camp for the long haul – the next four years of your college education. Congratulations! Getting into college is no small feat, and the next few years will be some of the most challenging and rewarding times in your life.

Growing up, I had parents who would always tell me — with a longing look in their eyes — that college would be “the best time of your life!” As a result, I entered into my freshman year fully expecting that by the time I graduated, I would have figured out all my dreams, fallen madly in love and had my future completely decided.

To be honest, college did not go the way I hoped. Perhaps, reader, you were not as naive as I. Maybe college is simply a stepping stone on the way to more important goals.

I could write a long, flowery letter giving you advice on what to do when you fail your first test or go through a hard breakup in college. I wish I could give you advice for when you first look at your reflection in the mirror in your childhood home and are shocked by your changed appearance. I know I myself had to work through college without much outside advice. So I will leave you with two tips:

Try new things. If it scares you, try it anyway. Some of the most fulfilling parts of my college experience have come when took the chance to try a new thing. I have found deep, long-lasting friendships and a boyfriend who is also one of my best friends and mentors due to the times I put myself out there, despite it seeming daunting.

You might be a first-generation college student, trailblazing a new path for your family. Maybe UTD wasn’t your first choice — it wasn’t initially mine. Or maybe this beautiful school tucked away in Richardson was what you’ve been dreaming about since you were a kid. That is what is so valuable about a college education. Every day, you will walk across a campus that houses the dreams, failures, struggles and joys of all your neighbors. The concentrated wonder and learning this place will offer over the next few years will never be replicated again. Soak it all in, enjoy it and, most importantly, good luck!


Rylee Russell

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