Southeast Missouri State University student publication

Maneuvering the fifth year: Five lessons Iíve learned from an extra year of college

Wednesday, November 15, 2023
Photography by Ben Schicker

Blink once. Freshman year is here and a new world is evolving around me.

Blink again and the fifth year of my college career is flying by and has been the most productive one yet.

What changed?

Five important lessons that I have adapted to my life are what changed my perspective on being a fifth year student.

Lesson one

While time is of the essence, make sure you slow down and realize that the decisions you make now, can set up your future.

Making decisions is what college is all about. Forcing yourself to make decisions is one mistake that I made early in my college career. Whether it was choosing a major just to have one, or doing work I wasnít passionate about.

Slowing the process down is one thing that helped me make conscious decisions, while doing what was best for myself.

Lesson two

Ask questions because a closed mouth doesnít get fed.

Teachers and counselors are here to help. Making time to visit with a teacher during office hours and outside of the classroom is one thing that I didnít take advantage of until this past year.

By visiting with a teacher on your own time to ask a question or even for some advice, it will only make you better as a student and will help build a bond.

There is no question too small or too big to ask someone who is there to help with your journey. There is only regret if you donít ask that question and gain the knowledge needed to succeed.

Lesson three

Itís the journey thatís important, not the destination.

For some, college is all work, all the time. There is never any time for reflection on the actual journey. For myself, reflecting and being appreciative for the journey never was something I started taking the time to do until my fifth year.

Take the time to reflect on the losses, just as much as the wins. The reason this is so important is because you can learn more from a failed experience, than you could a successful one.

By only taking five minutes out of your day to reflect on the journey, this will give a better understanding and appreciation on how far youíve come.

Lesson four

Build relationships and make connections with others around you.

The more you get out into the world and build relationships with people, the more opportunities you will have. The reason why college is great is because you are taking classes and spending time with other people who have the same interests as you.

There will never be another environment like this, which is why it is so important to make the most of our surroundings. Building bonds with people you never thought you would be friends with is what this lesson is all about.

Lesson five

Donít put limitations on yourself.

One would think that as a fifth year student I would know what my limitations are in terms of workload and future career endeavors, but no. As the years have gone by I have found that the more you strive for, the more that can be achieved.

Putting limitations on yourself is one thing that can be toxic, especially for the amount of opportunities that are presented in college. The key is to branch out and try new things to figure out what you really like.

Through these five lessons, I have learned to appreciate where I am at in my life. There will always be time to reflect on the journey and put in the work if you make the time for it.