Shoulda, Coulda, Woulda

Stephanie Jenks

When I moved into Andrews Hall as a first-year, May 18, 2014 seemed to be a lifetime away. Yet, here I am as a senior with only weeks to go until graduation, still confused as to how time moved so quickly. As graduation approaches and seniors become more reflective on their Colgate experience, I can’t help but notice how so many of my fellow classmates are dwelling on things they should have done with their time here. Personally, I don’t want to look back on my Colgate career thinking “I wish I did this” or “I should have done that.” There’s no point in dwelling on the past. What’s done is done. So instead of providing underclassmen my advice on how to go about their Colgate experience after learning from my own mistakes or the opportunities I didn’t take advantage of, I’m going to share what truly shaped my college experience.

Coming into Colgate as a first-year, I told myself I would try something new and step outside of my comfort zone. As the Editor-in-Chief of my high school’s newspaper, I wanted to stray away from participating in student media and focus my time on new activities that I didn’t have the opportunity to pursue in high school. However, I caved and ended up applying to The Maroon-News pre-orientation program. I have to say that choosing to participate in the pre-orientation program was probably one of the better decisions I’ve made (I still love to laugh at how we didn’t know how to get back to the freshman dorms from the Townhouses the first night). Sure, there are plenty of things I could have gotten involved with at Colgate, but I had the pleasure of working alongside some of the most dedicated, intelligent and fun people for the past four years and I was able to meet some of my best friends on campus through my involvement. Although we all complained at some point about spending countless hours staring at computer screens in the office every Tuesday, I always knew I would be accompanied with great laughter, gossip and sometimes even looked forward to the terrible music that would be playing in the office. Shameless self-plug, but my experience on staff gave me my claim to fame as winner (not once, but twice!) of “Beat the Experts” due to my flawless sports picks for both the NFL season and NCAA March Madness rounds. Again, I could have easily dedicated my time to another student activity, but then I wouldn’t have the memories (2010 holiday pub, anyone?), friends or experiences from my four years on staff that have been so special.

Junior year was particularly strange because a number of my friends were gone each semester and “my crew” got split up going abroad different semesters. People often ask me if I regret not going abroad. Staying on campus all year introduced me to so many people that I probably wouldn’t have met or developed meaningful friendships with under any other circumstances. In fact, not going abroad led me to one of my best friends because we bonded over being part of the minority of students who ended up not going abroad. I could be bothered with the fact that I didn’t spend a semester traveling the world, but then I wouldn’t know the people that were there for the best and the worst times for the whirlwind known as junior year. I’m actually more concerned with how those people weren’t part of my life earlier and why it took me so long to meet them.

I know I said I wouldn’t give underclassmen advice in this reflection, but I’m going against my word to say one thing: look on the bright side of everything. I could go on and on about how every decision I’ve made at Colgate has affected me in one way or another and what has truly shaped my Colgate experience, but I’m slightly restrained by a 500 – 800 word limit. Don’t get caught up with the “shoulda, coulda, woulda” moments that come with any decision. Instead, look at how everything you’ve done shaped your experience for the better.

Contact Stephanie Jenks at [email protected]