Helpful Hints: End the school year well by reflecting on these four questions

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Some college students keep journals to track their moods and habits. It can be a great way to stay organized and to relieve stress by processing thoughts or even doodling. (File Photo by Mary Kate Zach | Collegian Media Group)

Anyone who knows me know that I love to journal. At least several times a week, I sit down to write out my thoughts, recent events and to process through my feelings. My journals record more than the concrete events of my life — they also document my personal growth and maturity. I love going through old journals and seeing the growth and change that has occurred in my life.

With the close of another school year, I’m feeling the hankering to journal once again. The end of the school year is a transition point, and this particular school year is perhaps the oddest transition point we’ve experienced. I don’t know about you, but I didn’t expect this school year to end as it did.

Because this school year ended so uniquely, it’s even more important to give yourself time and space to process the year. Reflecting on an experience is what allows us to move forward and become even better in the future.

Here are a few questions to ask yourself to help you reflect on this past school year. I’d suggest answering them in a journal of your choice, but you could also ponder them on a long walk, discuss them over coffee with a friend, or lay awake thinking instead of sleeping — up to you.

1. What did I learn?

And not just in the classroom — though hopefully you learned something there as well. What lessons did you learn this year in your personal life? Through your friendships? A difficult experience? Quarantine?

2. What are the most memorable moments from this year?

Write down whatever sticks out to you when you think of this school year. Reflect on why those moments impacted you. What about them were memorable?

3. What was the most difficult time this year, and what was the result?

Did you have a difficult class? Was online learning challenging? Maybe being home with family wasn’t what you expected. Write about that thing that was the hardest, and what came out of it. Maybe nothing did — write about that too.

4. What is my next step?

The point of reflecting on the past is to better move forward toward the future. If you’re going into another year of college, think about what you want to change or improve. How do you want to be a better friend, student or leader? Make a concrete resolution and take steps toward it.

If you’re leaving college, reflect on the lessons you’ve learned and how you’ve grown, and how you want to take that into your next adventure. Think of how the past few years have prepared you to walk into this new stage of life.

However you choose to reflect, make sure you do it. This year has turned out differently than any of us could have imagined — but it provides us an opportunity to step back, reflect and move forward with grace and confidence, even in the face of the unknown.

Olivia Rogers is the community editor for the Collegian, the vice president of the University Honors Program and a senior in political science. The views and opinions expressed in this column are those of the author and the persons interviewed and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of the Collegian. Please send comments to opinion@kstatecollegian.com.

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I’m Olivia Rogers, a junior in Political Science and Prelaw. I enjoy a good cup of coffee, witty television and acoustic music. I write because: “Stories make us more alive, more human, more courageous, more loving.”― Madeleine L'Engle