[ NOte from Noel : As of this writing, Bunso is on the brink of his freshman year in college. I’m far from ideal as a dispenser of advice, but I’ve taken it upon myself to give him pearls of wisdom. Thanks in advance for reading ! ]
Dear Bunso :
Sorry for the late baon, I didn’t know when your first day was and the text messages were late in coming. I’m sure you’ll spend a sleepless night before your first day as a college student, few beginnings in your life will be as memorable as the chapter that heralds the start of your freshman year. Not only does it formalize your entry into the world as a young adult, it is when you make serious choices as regards career and the life you will lead hereon. The textbooks will undoubtedly help and your course curricula will serve as excellent guideposts, but it will be during this time that you will solidify your views of the world around you, your theory on why things are what they are, why things never seem to change, or why things will continue to be. Most of the time you will figure things out for yourself, for that is the task of your professors and the adventure of learning : to train you to think for yourself, and to educate yourself in whatever discipline that you find worth your time and effort.
But forget all that for now. You’ve come this far, and you deserve a memorable first day and first week as a collegian, don’t hesitate to do everything to store all the wonderful memories of your first day at campus, make as many friends as possible, and above all, cultivate your love for learning as you’ve always done, burn in your mind’s eye the crowd of people your age sharing your goals, the beautiful campus around you, the impressive edifices of learning all about, as these will be your world for the next four years :
Don’t try to do too much on your first day – You will be too stoked to do anything else but soak it all in, so just go with the flow. Your first day will most likely be an assault to the senses : the human traffic will be at least twice or thrice what you’re used to in Siena, the chatter and noise level will be barely bearable, you will see all around you people as excited as you are, seeking to impress new friends, and you can’t have a campus without the cool customers : the jocks and cheerleaders, the artists, the nerds, and the groupies around each of these species. Take them all in, make them part of your consciousness, because a good part of this community will make you part of their family.
Find your mates – I’m not sure if you’ve enrolled in a block of classes or a unique schedule, but if it’s the latter, you will soon enough find colleagues who share two or more classes with you. It might be a bit early on Day One of school, but these are the guys who will be your buddies for the rest of the semester. Breaks, gaps in schedules, class work and car pools are just some of the areas where you can collaborate and pool resources for mutual benefit. Trust your first impression in this regard, if you feel good vibes coming from a new acquaintance/s, reach out to make friends for life.
Embrace your causes carefully – I’m not sure about the sense of timing on that side of Katipunan, but the cause – oriented groups, of which schools like yours are never in short supply, will often use the heady days of first week, to air their advocacies and pet causes all around campus. When the exhilarating air of idealism is new to the senses, the appeal to change the world is at its strongest, and more so to freshmen hearing noble exhortations to kapit bisig for the first time. You will often hear them during orientation talks, when moderators allow them their five minutes, during impromptu gatherings on the quadrangle, when even fringe groups are given their fifteen minutes of fame by the campus crowd, when in a burst of righteous exuberance you might just be inspired to hug a tree, defend a political prisoner, or revive legal rights long taken for granted. Youth is the time to pick up these causes I know, but please choose your battles carefully, and always remember what you came to school for. Above all, keep in mind the sacrifices made by those who came ahead of you, so that you could walk the corridors of learning.
Pace yourself – It might be hard to balance your energies when there is so much to do, so much to accomplish in so little time, but it is doable. There is balance among the efforts you devote to your different subjects, the division of labor between reading assignments, writing reports and preparing for exams, which is after all where you hardened your muscles in high school, and not the least, the balance between work and recreation, without which you will be doomed to burn out long before nearing the finish line. Just keep your eye on the big picture, which is a living a well-rounded life, pushing yourself to the limit and enjoying yourself later, and the balance will come naturally.
Make your predecessors proud, and your successors inspired – And when you make the final selection on your degree course, embrace your causes and find out where you will excel, do everything you can to leave your mark as a student. You may have heard this before, but you are a special student, in a special school entering university at a very special time. Because of all your gifts and the needs of the times, you have no choice but to change the world. I was hoping not to sound so melodramatic, but your stint as a student in a good school is no less than a great privilege, demanding that you use your training to help make our country a better one for the less fortunate, particularly those who have not had your opportunity.
I know it’s a lot to absorb before your first day at school, I hope I haven’t dulled your sense of anticipation. It sounds trite, but you are in for a thrilling adventure, and no matter what you do, great rewards await. In a sense, as you embark on your journey of learning, you have already won, and you only need to claim your prize at the end of your four years. Vaya con Dios!
I love you always and miss you terribly. Kaawaan ka lagi ng Diyos anak.
- Notes On A Birthday (ylbnoel.wordpress.com)
- The Next Day of The Rest of Your Life (ylbnoel.wordpress.com)
- How Colleges and Students Differ: The Intangibles (education.com)
- Your Last Year as a Teen (ylbnoel.wordpress.com)