Top Five Tips for the Undergrad

Cody Semrau

It’s rare that we ever take the time to reflect on our own lives. The days come and go, one weekend turns into the next and before you know it, your time is up. Yet, despite the finite time we have, the way that we decide to spend it is often not consciously considered. It is only at monumental moments like graduation, when the chapter in the book is over, that we take the time to think about what we have really been doing while the pages have been turning.

The act of reflection is often paired with sentimentality. Although I think there is much more to it than feeling nostalgic, reflecting is a worthwhile venture simply because the way that you view your past – good or bad – can help you decide how to spend your future.

I recently came across an article that appeared last year in a journal called Collective Evolution. The article, titled “The Top Five Regrets of the Dying,” was written by a palliative nurse who often worked with the elderly at the very end of their lives. Here are the most common regrets she compiled:

(1.) I wish I’d had the courage to live a life true to myself, not the life others expected of me. (2.) I wish I hadn’t worked so hard. (3.) I wish I’d had the courage to express my feelings.(4.) I wish I’d stayed in touch with my friends. (5.) I wish that I had let myself be happier.

Although I hope to live many more happy and healthy years, I found the list intriguing, especially considering how relatable it already felt to me. But I think that this list is relatable to any Colgate student for a number of reasons.

Firstly, we live in a bubble that makes being different or acting out of the norm a very difficult thing to do. One false move and you’re branded for the next four years of your collegiate career. Secondly, we tend to stress ourselves out over just about everything. The reason most of us were able to get into Colgate is because we’re intelligent, competitive and are used to being successful. But I can’t tell you the number of times I’ve heard someone complain about getting a B instead of a B+ (myself included).

Thirdly, we make ourselves way too busy. I know very few people who aren’t a part of three or four different organizations on campus and who continue to actively participate in them. With these factors in mind, I decided to come up with my own “Top Five Tips for the Colgate Undergrad”:

(1.) Each week, spend an hour exploring a new part of the Colgate campus or the greater Hamilton community. You’d be surprised just how big the Colgate bubble can really be.

(2.) Bring back the Colgate “Hello.” The winters are too long to not to try to brighten up a stranger’s day, even with the smallest of gestures.

(3.) Learn to say “No.” Saying yes to everyone and everything all the time can end up allowing your own priorities and needs to take a back seat.

(4.) Ask her out. Seriously, just do it.

(5.) Speak up for what you believe in and don’t worry about being different. What’s it going to matter come graduation day, anyway?

Contact Cody Semrau at [email protected]