I’d like to offer my congratulations to the class of 2019. You’ve done it. You suffered through four years of high school hormones, dumb arguments, pep rallies and classes that seemed useless when you took them.
If you’re on your way to college, get ready for 2 to 8 more years of that. But don’t worry, I come bearing the advice of a millennial who thinks they know better than you.
• College is the time to define the type of person you want to be. But only you get to decide that. You can do nothing but study, you can party 24/7 and get your stomach pumped once a week, or you can find a balance that feels comfortable for you. I wouldn’t recommend the party 24/7 one though; it gets boring pretty quick.
• College is not like what you’ve seen in movies and TV shows. Your dorm rooms will not be enormous, exposed brick masterpieces that rival Elle Woods’ room in “Legally Blonde.” Your resident adviser will not be your best buddy who looks the other way every time you sneak booze into your room. You’ll probably be lucky if the window opens all the way and your roommate smells normal.
• Join extracurriculars. Explore your interests. Take fun classes.
• Use proper laundry room etiquette. If somebody’s laundry is in the machine, wait your turn. If their clothes have been in there for a long time and the machine is done, at least make the effort to find that person and let them know that their clothes are done before taking them out and dumping them somewhere. Don’t be that person. People remember that person, and not in a good way.
• Get rid of your preconceived notions of people from high school. It’s entirely possible that you’ll end up at the same school as somebody you went to high school with, and just like you they deserve a chance. They might be a completely different person from the one you knew in school. They could become your best friend. But you’ll never know if you don’t treat them as anything other than what you saw them as in high school.
• I’m bringing back this point from last year. Watch your drinks. Don’t go anywhere alone with somebody who makes you uncomfortable. If you do go somewhere alone, make sure that somebody knows where you are going, who you’re meeting with, when you leave and what time you’re expected back. Walk in packs. Go to the bathroom in packs. Take a self-defense class. Nobody is allowed to put their hands on you without your consent. The way you dress is not an invitation for somebody to try something with you. Anybody who uses physical or emotional manipulation to get you to do something is not somebody to be around. Verbalized consent is fundamental. No means no. (This entire point goes for guys and girls.)
• You’re not required to know exactly what you want to major in on your first day. You are absolutely allowed to change your major as many times as you want, until you determine what you want to do with your life. It’s your life, your career and your time in college should represent your interests. Be warned, however, the more times you change your major, the more time you’ll have to spend in college to complete all of your necessary classes. I know people who were in college for more than five years, just because they kept switching their major.
• For those who may not be attending a four-year institution, don’t worry. There’s absolutely nothing at all wrong with joining the military or going to a trade school or a community college. Nothing at all, and anybody who tells you otherwise doesn’t deserve a place in your life. Your path is your own, and you’re the one who gets to decide that.
Again, congratulations to you. Make your community proud, make your families proud and make yourselves proud.
• Shea Lazansky is a proud graduate of Eastern Illinois University and reporter/photographer for the Record Newspapers.