Reflective Essay On Freshman Year In College

That being said, I tried to make more time for myself in this past year, simply because I thought I was going through my daily grind and not really experiencing life. “Experiencing life” can be a bit vague, I’m talking about the little things, like looking around when I walk to and from class, or taking the time to mentally detox in the mornings and evenings. Normally, I would wake up in a rush and then that anxious feeling would continue all throughout the day. I would finally lay down in bed and immediately fall asleep, never having a chance to reflect on my experiences.

So this reflection is more of a piece for those who feel the same way as I, stressed and too busy for our own good. This is for people to take a moment to look back on the years we have spent at NIU, reflect on how we have grown as adults, while also looking forward to the future. I want this to serve as a reminder to everyone, not just seniors, that you do not have to know exactly what you want to do with your life. You don’t have to be a traditional student to be successful. Being honest with yourself and doing what your heart desires instead of what others want you to do, is the best way to your own personal happiness.

So I urge you to please kick back and do a personal reflection on yourself, it may just be what you need to get through your final semester.

 

First/Second Year

When I first came to NIU, I really had no idea what I wanted to do with my career. I originally thought I wanted to be an architect when I was in middle school, but that quickly changed to wanting to be an engineer. Unfortunately, I had a pretty nasty physics teacher in high school who changed my opinion on engineering in just one semester. Isn’t it a shame how some teachers in high school can really alter your view on a subject? Oddly enough, it turned out to be okay in the end. Once I graduated high school I thought I wanted to be a Psychologist, so I majored in psychology and philosophy at Elmhurst College (in Elmhurst Illinois) my freshman year. I started to come to terms with the reality that I could not afford Elmhurst College, nor were my majors something I wanted to make into a career.

Sure, the majors were interesting to me, but I didn’t want to take traditional classes on them. I would rather read about Psychology and Philosophy in my free time and make a hobby out of those subjects.

With all of that said, I wanted to go to a school that was close to home, but far enough for me to live on my own. The cost of school, in general, was an issue, so I spent my second year at Harper College (in Palatine, Illinois) where I could save some money, while also finishing my second year of Gen Eds at a community college. It was after taking all of those introductory classes that I decided to use my interest in psychology and bring that into the business world. That’s what lead me to NIU.

 

Third Year

My first year at NIU was spent in classes all around campus, which was fun for me to see the campus in its entirety. At the time, I only was taking one class in Barsema Hall, and I remember myself feeling anxious to finally spend my time there. I actually spent most of my studying in Barsema Hall, even when I had exams for other classes. The building felt like the place where I could build a future, an area that encourages scholarly success. Something about that feeling made the College of Business seem refreshing and inviting.

I have to admit that in high school I thought I needed to get my hands in everything. I played four sports while also being in multiple organizations, so once I got to college I told myself I would only play golf and that was it. Naturally, once I stopped playing golf at Elmhurst College and came to Northern, I thought I would simply go to class and come home to study. Luckily, I snapped out of that way of thinking, because I immediately felt like I had wasted two years by not getting as involved as I should have. I felt like I was at a disadvantage to other students by not being in organizations, but at the same time, I was working until five in the morning at times at the police department on campus. That was the only job that would allow me to work more hours than normal while working at night when my classes were over. Regardless, I thought getting involved would not only bring me around likeminded people but also make friendships, both of which I didn’t have at that point in time.

I knew I wanted to join something, and so in my second semester of my first year at NIU, I choose to join Delta Sigma Pi, the business fraternity. It was through Delta Sigma Pi that I was introduced to my current position, being the Student Intern for the College of Business marketing director. I finally started to feel a connection to the College of Business with this position, and it also allowed me to get a feel for a business oriented job, instead of one in Public Service. After leaving my supervisor role at the Police Department, I started to spend more and more time at the CoB, which was certainly a benefit, becoming acclimated with traditional business culture. The first year I spent here was certainly a wild ride, but it was after that second semester that I really started to call NIU my home.

 

Fourth Year

It was in my fourth year when I finally declared my business major in marketing. It took me a while to finally decide because the decision felt so daunting to me. How are we supposed to decide the rest of our lives at 21 years old? It was crazy to me, but UBUS 310 brought my vision into focus, and marketing was certainly something I could see myself doing in the long run. It just felt right, and I think that’s something important here. Sometimes you don’t necessarily know why you want to pursue or do something, it just feels right, and that’s okay.

Neil deGrasse Tyson said something rather profound on a Podcast I was listening to. He was talking about how our society, rather, our language insists on all of us coming up with words to describe our actions and how we feel. Is it black or is it white? Are you male or are you female? We demand to know exactly what people are feeling, and we don’t accept that sometimes there is not an answer for something, it just feels right. Sometimes words simply cannot describe our feelings, but we are demanded to come up with something to say, so we settle on what to think based on what we can articulate. Instead of limiting your thoughts based on the words you know, people should make decisions based on logic, reasoning, and how you feel about the situation. Of course, we can’t make decisions based only on feelings, but there is something to be said about listening to that feeling in your stomach, telling you if a decision is right or wrong.

Going back to Delta Sigma Pi, the fraternity also lead me to my love for Social Entrepreneurship, the first semester back in my fourth year of school. A brother in DSP was talking to me about my outlook on life and how my ideas matched up really well to Social Entrepreneurship, so I talked to a couple professors and I immediately fell in love, knowing that would be my minor. Social Entrepreneurship lead me to CAUSE, where I was able to pursue my passion of making the world a better place.

That fourth year was wonderful, I was taking classes I loved and making connections with professors that would eventually lead me to bigger and better things. I was working for the college, while also getting really involved with organizations and sitting on boards that were making real decisions for the College of Business. It felt like I finally found the right place to be.

 

Fifth and Final Year

Well, after all this hard work, I’m staying here even longer. I thought all I wanted to do was be in sales and make a living on my own hard work, and don’t get me wrong, I would still love to do that, but not at this current stage of my life. It wasn’t until the first few weeks of this academic year that I came to visit a professor I had a few semesters ago. She sat me down and we talked about my plans for the future. I honestly was feeling a bit uneasy about my future at the time. I really wanted to do something that would make an impact on people, but I simply didn’t know what. She asked me if I had considered teaching in higher education, and that’s when the “lightbulb” went off in my head. Yes, yes I had, but why didn’t I fully think of that before? I guess I never really took the time to think about it clearly. I was always moving so fast through my undergraduate degree that I never really evaluated my true feelings about my future. I never stopped to reclaim my days as mine and reflect on what had happened that week, analyzing what stood out to me. It wasn’t until I had someone else slow down my crazy life, that I began to see the last puzzle piece I was missing. After thinking more about it, teaching would be the perfect career for me. Constantly learning, the opportunity to impact young minds, and continuously being progressive through the power of education. It was then that I decided to stay and be a GA while obtaining my Masters at the College of Business here, the home I have come to love. It couldn’t have worked any better for me.

 

Final Thoughts

So what now? Well, more school. But I was trying to get at the constant change in my career path. I changed my major more times that I ever would have expected, but I think it was my open-mindedness that allowed me to audit so many different majors, and experience such a wide variety of subjects to finally make up my mind.

There seem to be many people who know what they want to do with their lives right out of high school, which is completely fine. However, it’s the student who doesn’t, who may feel a bit behind, like they are missing out by not knowing exactly what they want to do with their future. I’m writing this to tell you, that’s okay. You don’t have to know. Be open with the fact that there may come a time when you figure it out, and then it changes. That’s the beauty of enrolling at a wonderful school like NIU, you get to choose your future.

At the end of the day, I’m happy with the way everything turned out, and if you are too, good luck moving forward. For those of you who are looking deep down inside yourself wondering if your choices so far are really yours or something someone else told you, it’s not too late. Take the extra time to evaluate your life and do what truly makes you happy, because, in the end, it’s not anyone else’s decision but your own. Your way to true happiness and fulfillment is gaining control of your life.

I hope this inspired someone out there, and for those of you graduating this semester, cheers to you and see you in May!

–   Louie

  • Civic Learning in the Major by Design

    Fall 2017

    Educating students to be responsible, informed, and engaged citizens in their workplaces and the... Read more

  • Faculty Collaboratives

    Summer 2017

    This issue features the AAC&U Faculty Collaboratives project, which has created a large-scale,... Read more

  • Committing to Equity and Inclusive Excellence

    Spring 2017

    Since 1970, bachelor degree attainment among students from wealthy families nearly doubled, but it... Read more

  • New Frontiers in Writing

    Winter 2017

    This issue builds on and explores implications of findings from the National Census of Writing. It... Read more

  • Integrating Evidence: The STIRS Approach

    Fall 2016

    The Scientific Thinking and Integrative Reasoning Skills (STIRS) framework has been developed, used... Read more

  • Advancing Equity and Student Success through Eportfolios

    Summer 2016

    Adoption of eportfolio pedagogies and practices in conjunction with Signature Work provide the... Read more

  • Transparency and Problem-Centered Learning

    Winter/Spring 2016

    This issue, funded by TG Philanthropy, explores the relationship between high-impact practices and... Read more

  • Advancing Collaborative Roadmaps for Student Success

    Fall 2015

    Sponsored by The Kresge Foundation, this issue focuses on campus, state, regional, and national... Read more

  • Rethinking Preparation for Work: A Civic-Enriched Liberal Education

    Summer 2015

    In a world where college graduates spend the majority of their public lives engaged in work, this... Read more

  • Navigating Institutional Change for Student Success in STEM

    Spring 2015

    This issue, sponsored by the W. M. Keck Foundation as part of the PKAL Guide to Systemic... Read more

  • Faculty Leadership for Integrative Liberal Learning

    Fall/Winter 2015

    This issue, sponsored by the Teagle and Mellon foundations, offers insights about the central role... Read more

  • Quantitative Reasoning

    Summer 2014

    Quantitative reasoning skills―the habit of mind, competency, and comfort in working with numerical... Read more

  • Gender Equity in STEM

    Spring 2014

    Close examination of the status of women science and engineering faculty at four-year colleges and... Read more

  • E-Portfolios: For Reflection, Learning, and Assessment

    Winter 2014

    E-portfolios are now being used in more than half of US colleges and universities. This issue... Read more

  • Capstones and Integrative Learning

    Fall 2013

    Whether they’re called senior capstones or some other name, these culminating experiences require... Read more

  • The Changing Nature of Faculty Roles

    Summer 2013

    This issue explores the evolution of faculty roles, including the growing dependence on non-tenure-... Read more

  • Models for Student Success: Developing a Community College Student Roadmap

    Spring 2013

    This issue highlights lessons learned from Developing a Community College Student Roadmap, the LEAP... Read more

  • Collaborative Leadership for Liberal Education

    Winter 2013

    This issue explores how campus leaders—presidents, boards, administrators and faculty—can best work... Read more

  • Essential Learning Outcomes, the New MCAT, and Curricular Change

    Fall 2012

    This issue focuses on the new changes to the MCAT, which focus more on broad integrative learning... Read more

  • Frontiers of Faculty Work: Embracing Innovation and High-Impact Practices

    Summer 2012

    This issue centers on how faculty are using high-impact educational practices in individual... Read more

  • The Liberally Educated Professional

    Spring 2012

    This issue explores how various professional programs, such as education, engineering, and nursing... Read more

  • Assessing Liberal Education Outcomes Using VALUE Rubrics

    Fall/Winter 2011

    This issue focuses on AAC&U’s VALUE rubrics, which were tested on more than one hundred pilot... Read more

  • Advancing What Works in STEM: A View Through the PKAL Lens

    Summer 2011

    This issue of Peer Review emerges from the new partnership between Project Kaleidoscope (PKAL) and... Read more

  • Lessons on Systemic Reform from the LEAP States Initiative

    Spring 2011

    This issue of Peer Review highlights lessons learned from AAC&U’s LEAP States initiative.... Read more

  • Returning Adult Students

    Winter 2011

    Adult students comprise a growing population on college campuses. This issue features a range of... Read more

  • Internships and Experiential Learning

    Fall 2010

    Articles in this issue present best practices for creating internships and other experiential... Read more

  • The Future of the Faculty: Collaborating to Cultivate Change

    Summer 2010

    This issue explores new strategies for diversifying the faculty and developing their effectiveness... Read more

  • Undergraduate Research

    Spring 2010

    This issue highlights undergraduate programs that integrate students into the research community... Read more

  • Engaging Departments: Assessing Student Learning

    Winter 2010

    This issue explores how departments are developing assessment approaches that deepen student... Read more

  • Study Abroad and Global Learning: Exploring Connections

    Fall 2009

    Peer Review, Fall, 2009: Features articles on best practices in campus study abroad programs,... Read more

  • Liberal Education and Undergraduate Public Health Studies

    Summer 2009

    This issue makes the case for a bridge between the undergraduate and public health communities,... Read more

  • Good Teaching: What Is It and How Do We Measure It?

    Spring 2009

    This issue addresses specific challenges faculty are facing in the classroom today. It explores... Read more

  • Assessing Learning Outcomes: Lessons from AAC&U's VALUE Project

    Winter 2009

    This issue focuses on AAC&U’s VALUE project and provides an overview of new assessment... Read more

  • Toward Intentionality and Integration

    Fall 2008

    Intentionality and integrative learning, captured in the LEAP vision of essential learning outcomes... Read more

  • Student Political Engagement

    Spring/Summer 2008

    This issue examines how the academy engages students in their learning today to help them grow as... Read more

  • Academic Advising

    Winter 2008

    This issue addresses the role of academic advising in undergraduate education with a special focus... Read more

  • Faculty Development: Finding Balance in Changing Roles

    Fall 2007

    Faculty development will play a critical role in efforts to achieve essential learning outcomes for... Read more

  • Bringing Theory to Practice

    Summer 2007

    The Bringing Theory to Practice (BTtoP) project seeks to advance engaged student learning and... Read more

  • Assessing Student Learning

    Spring 2007

    As campuses implement more complex assignments, community placements, internships, student research... Read more

  • Student Preparation, Motivation, and Achievement

    Winter 2007

    The issue presents data on college readiness, effective strategies for increasing student... Read more

  • Learning & Technology

    Fall 2006

    This issue examines a range of current issues concerning the role and use of technology in student... Read more

  • Successful Transitions to College Through First- Year Programs

    Summer 2006

    This issue features first-year programs that are designed to facilitate positive transitions for... Read more

  • The Creativity Imperative

    Spring 2006

    Why is cultivating creative abilities among today’s students so essential? This issue focuses on... Read more

  • Undergraduate Research

    Winter 2006

    This issue highlights undergraduate programs that integrate students into the research community... Read more

  • Integrative Learning

    Summer/Fall 2005

    The Summer/Fall 2005 issue of Peer Review focuses on integrative learning. Integrative abilities... Read more

  • Liberal Education and the Entrepreneurial Spirit

    Spring 2005

    Sponsored by the Kauffman Consortium for Liberal Education and Entrepreneurship, housed at the... Read more

  • Science and Engaged Learning

    Winter 2005

    This issue explores efforts to improve science education for majors and nonmajors through new forms... Read more

  • Creating Shared Responsibility for General Education and Assessment

    Fall 2004

    Challenging the widespread notion that general education is something to "get out of the way as... Read more

  • Quantitative Literacy

    Summer 2004

    This issue focuses on quantitative literacy as a key outcome of liberal education and explores... Read more

  • Advancing the Conversation Between Graduate and Undergraduate Education

    Spring 2004

    Planned in coordination with the Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching, this issue... Read more

  • (R)Evolution of the New Globally Engaged Academy

    Winter 2004

    This issue focuses on the evolving identities and missions of colleges and universities as they... Read more

  • Writing and the New Academy

    Fall 2003

    This issue focuses on writing as a key outcome of liberal education and explores recent trends in... Read more

  • General Education in the New Academy

    Summer 2003

    This issue addresses new models for general education with a focus on models of integrative... Read more

  • Educating for Citizenship

    Spring 2003

    This issue focuses on how the academic goals of liberal education are enhanced by civic engagement... Read more

  • Purposeful Pathways? A Look at School-College Alignment

    Winter 2003

    This issue provides a critical overview of school-college alignment efforts and makes the case for... Read more

  • Contingent Faculty and Student Learning

    Fall 2002

    This issue explores issues and trends associated with the use of part-time and full-time non-tenure... Read more

  • The Values Question in Higher Education

    Summer 2002

    This issue explores the ways colleges and universities are addressing the values questions today's... Read more

  • Value Added Assessment of Liberal Education

    Winter/Spring 2002

    This issue presents the RAND Corporation/Council for Aid to Education's Value Added Assessment... Read more

  • Learning Communities: A Sustainable Innovation?

    Summer/Fall 2001

    This issue explores the challenges faced by this successful innovation and presents current best... Read more

  • Academic Governance: Charting a New Course

    Spring 2001

    This issue provides an overview of the history and current state of academic governance.

  • Broad Minds & Good Jobs: Integrating Liberal and Professional Studies

    Winter 2001

    This issue considers the context for, and the challenges of, integrating liberal and professional... Read more

  • A Small World? Students and Faculty Abroad

    Fall 2000

    This issue seeks to provoke informed debate over the shape academic exchange will take in the years... Read more

  • Why Is It So Hard to Change the Curriculum?

    Summer 2000

    This issue looks at the challenges facing those who hope to lead their campuses in revising the... Read more

  • Health in Campus Life and Learning

    Spring 2000

    This issue argues that, in the context of a liberal education, we should help students understand... Read more

  • 0 comments

    Leave a Reply

    Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *