“In all of my years working here, I can say you’re someone who made the most out of your college experience.”
I remember hearing these words, and the very lengthy conversation after it. Someone who worked at Penn State, where I was a senior at the time, uttered these words with her 20+ years of experience to me as I sat chatting with her in her office.
As a high school senior, I remember touring Penn State Wilkes-Barre, one of the three schools I had applied to. Once we checked in, had the admissions overview presentation, and then began the campus tour… I remember thinking one thing, I hope this guy doesn’t fall. Falling is one of those things that’s hard not to laugh at, but as he was also giving a group of us a tour of the campus, I knew it would be good to blurt out in laughter. I don’t remember his name, but I remember how good he was at walking backwards. I was so impressed with his skills, and his knowledge of the campus I knew I wanted to also give tours when I attended. For four years, I worked with the admissions office, in different capacities and gave hundreds of campus tours. I was their go-to. Anytime there was a scheduled or unscheduled tour, I’d get a phone call or text.
My first of many things I was involved in was becoming a Lion Ambassador, which was the official tour guide for the campus. Many universities have similar organizations. By far, out of the 16 or so student clubs or organizations I was a part of, this one was my favorite. It was something I got good at, and something I loved to do. At times, daily, I was able to interact with prospective students and their families as I walked backwards to take them around campus and answer their burning questions about college. Most times it was parents asking questions, which is to be expected, but occasionally the student would actually work up the courage to ask a question. They didn’t realize it, but they couldn’t have been doing anything better than asking questions. Searching and then choosing a place where you’ll spend four years of your life isn’t easy, but it is a process to take seriously. Asking questions about academics/the classroom side of the college is important, but even more important is asking about the things outside of the classroom. Many students don’t realize going into college that their schedule is vastly different than their schedule in high school.
In high school, you’ll spend seven or so hours in class, whereas in college you’ll spend three, maybe four hours in a classroom a day, and some days you won’t even have class. More of your time in college is spent outside of the classroom, than inside of the classroom.
Getting involved is something I did… and probably overdid if I was going, to be honest. During my second year in college, I was involved in 16 different clubs/organizations, took 6 classes(18 credits), and also had three on-campus jobs. I learned more than I could have ever imagined. I learned so much about not just myself, but also those around me. I was able to strengthen my communication, leadership, and people skills just to name a few which shaped the person I am today and the person I continue to become.
Visiting, and touring a college are important. For me, it affected my life, as from the campus tour I received I not only joined the organization and ran the organization for the better part of my college career, but it also got me involved in other things due to the networking and connections it provided me with. Years later, I was able to actually train all of the campus orientation leaders, so that they could give tours to all of the new incoming students. Often, I think back to hearing what I heard my senior year, and I can definitely say I did make the most of my college experience.