OPINION: It’s been a good four years. But looking back, here’s some advice from a graduating senior

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Macy Davis, graduating senior in English, poses with some of her favorite books. Davis read more than 60 books over the course of the fall 2018 semester, and she plans to read many more when she attends graduate school in Boston. (John Chapple | Collegian Media Group)

Graduation is quickly approaching, and it’s safe to say I’m excited for the next chapter in my life.

My four years studying English at Kansas State University have been phenomenal. But even if it’ll seem like it was all a walk in the park by the time graduation arrives, that’s not remotely true. Making it through my undergraduate degree has meant a lot of coffee, a lot of stress and so many papers.

I’ve learned a lot in college, both in and out of the classroom, and as I get ready to leave Manhattan behind me for graduate school in Boston, I wanted to share some of my biggest tips for making the most of your time at K-State.

Now, I’m not the ultimate authority on things to do at college, so take this advice with a grain of salt. College is a different experience for everyone.

1. Just fill out the application

This is the one thing that I’ll stress over anything else. If you’re looking for a job or an internship and you find an opportunity you’re interested in, apply even if you don’t think you have a shot in the dark at getting it.

In 2017, I interned at the Library of Congress; when I applied for the position, I didn’t think there was any chance I would actually be hired. However, I ended up not only getting the position, but having an experience that changed the trajectory of my entire college career.

Last summer, I almost didn’t apply for the summer history curator position at Camp Kawanhee for Boys because I thought I would be too far out of my comfort zone, but I ended up finding a welcoming community of coworkers and counselors. If I hadn’t applied for this position, I wouldn’t be headed back for my second summer shortly after graduation.

The worst thing that can happen when you apply for a position is that you don’t get the job and you move on to something else. But if you don’t apply in the first place, you never even have the chance to undertake what could potentially be one of the best experiences of your life.

2. Be willing to say yes

There are a lot of opportunities out there for you at K-State, and when opportunity comes a-knockin’ on your doorstep, say yes! If I hadn’t said yes, I wouldn’t have ended up writing and editing for the Collegian, serving as a research intern at the Chapman Center for Rural Studies or becoming a published poet.

Saying yes means taking a chance on a group, a class or a position even if you don’t feel 100 percent qualified. If someone asks you to do something, chances are they’re asking you for a reason. Plus, saying yes definitely looks good in general. When you say yes and take on a leadership position or help out with an event, that signals to people that you’re a hard worker.

Saying yes can lead to increased opportunities in the future. Part of the reason why I think I did so well at camp this past summer and was asked to come back was because I was willing to say yes and help with just about everything.

3. Learn how to say no

That being said, you can’t always say yes — even if you want to. Sometimes, in order to keep yourself sane, you need to be able to say no. I’ll be the first to admit that this is an area I’m still working on.

As much as you may want to do everything — take every opportunity, say yes whenever asked or take all the classes ever — you need to set reasonable expectations for what you can and can’t do.

Too many times over my four years I’ve found myself on the edge of burnout because I’ve tried to do too much. I’m hoping that I can do better at this as I start grad school.

4. Find something you care about

With all the organizations and activities out there, it can be easy to half-ass a lot of things rather than “whole-assing” one thing. Find one or two things that you want to commit to the most.

For me, this was the K-State Speech Team. I devoted hours to practice each week and spent a large majority of my college weekends traveling to competitions. This commitment paid off when I placed third in the nation in impromptu speaking this spring.

You can participate in a lot of things, and I’m not saying to stop doing that, but find something that you really care about and want to dedicate more of yourself to. Have no shame about prioritizing some commitments over others.

5. Take some time for yourself

Life is hard, and it’s okay to just “veg” every now and then. Don’t get so caught up in work, homework and other impending threats of doom. Sometimes, you just need to breathe and focus on something else.

When it’s nice, I like to go out to the lake, hang up my hammock and read and write. Lately, I’ve been binge-watching the show “Gilmore Girls” on Netflix. At the beginning of the semester, I did my first cross-stitching project.

What you do to chill out can change over the course of your college career and even over the course of the semester. I’m not trying to give you an excuse to procrastinate, I just want you to remember that classes aren’t the only thing in life.

6. Everything will be okay

At the end of the day, you’ve got this. You are going to make it to your own graduation sooner than you think. The people around you are here to support you until you’ve got that degree in your hand.

If what I’ve learned helps you make more of your college experience, that’s awesome. If it doesn’t, no worries — you keep doing you and working hard. Next thing you know, you’ll be the senior looking back at what you’ve learned just like I am.

Macy Davis is the culture editor for the Collegian and a senior in English. The views and opinions expressed in this column are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of the Collegian. Please send comments to opinion@kstatecollegian.com.

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Macy Davis
I'm Macy Davis, culture editor. I'm a senior studying English with a minor in mass communications and journalism. When I'm not reading and writing (both for class and for fun), I'm a member of the nationally ranked K-State speech team. After I graduate I plan on pursuing a graduate degree in library science.