3 Things I Miss About College Now That I’m an Adult

My sister graduated from Michigan State this year and it made me yearn for my college days!

My sister graduated from Michigan State this year and it made me yearn for my college days!

As thousands of college students across the country become college alumni over the next month or so, I’ve been spending time reflecting on my college days. It’s been especially pertinent this year as my sister joined the ranks of Michigan State graduates (Go Green!) a few weeks ago and I got to go back to campus.

One of the things that always strikes me when I think back to college are all the things I miss. Sure there was the sleeping in and social time, but there were also a lot of other things you might not typically think of that I wish could continue today. Even though I love my job and a regular paycheck, you have to admit that these things were pretty great.

Setting your own schedule
In college, I would go to work for 2-3 hours in the morning, get lunch, go to class, do some homework, and then go to a club in the evening. Then the next day, it’d be a totally different routine. I got everything done, but did it on my time when it was most convenient — no 9-5 repetition.

Getting to have a variety of experiences
My senior year of school, I was working three jobs, freelance writing and participating in multiple clubs. There’s nothing quite like that in the real world (unless you’re a freelancer) where you can get such a diversity of professional experiences and networking opportunities.

Creating your own stress
Due to the number of things I participated in and the class load I took, I always felt that I was busy and under pressure from somewhere. It wasn’t until I moved into a full-time job that I realized how wonderful it is to have stress put on you by no one but yourself. If something was too much, I didn’t have to do it. In the working world, though, there’s pressure from so many more outside forces — coworkers, supervisors, clients, looming deadlines — that you can’t just walk away from if you feel like you need a breather.

Now, that’s not to say that moving into a career isn’t awesome (I’ll write about that later), but a word of advice to students everywhere: take advantage of every moment and don’t wish it away too quickly — there will never be another time in your life quite like college.

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Win or lose, I’m always proud to be a Spartan

Like most of my fellow Michigan State Spartans, I was feeling a little depressed yesterday afternoon. Despite great effort, our basketball team fell to UConn in the Elite Eight of the NCAA Tournament. Along with many sports analysts and bracket builders across the country, I had hoped this year would be the year they made it to the national championship. But, alas, it wasn’t meant to be.

Five years at Michigan State gave me some of my favorite people and great friends.

It’s often easy to get swept up in the ups and downs of college sports. For alumni like me, you’re invested in your school and want their success more than anything (especially when you’re going up against your rivals). But when losses like these happen, I have to step back and remind myself that a basketball team is not even close to the most important thing I got from my time at Michigan State. In my five years on campus, it was far more important that I gained:

  • An amazing fiance. While we actually met before college, Michigan State was where we started our relationship, learned about one another, grew as a couple and made the decision to face the real world hand-in-hand, for the long haul.
  • Absolutely great friends. Some of my best friends are those I met through FFA or NAMA or other classes in the College of Ag and Natural Resources. I wouldn’t have gotten through college – and it sure wouldn’t have been as much fun – without them.
  • A professional network. Whether it was through internships, on-campus jobs or participation in various clubs, the professional network I continue to reach out to today is the one I started building during my time in East Lansing.
  • My favorite memories. By the time graduation rolls around, every senior is just ready to be done. You’re done with classes and studying and exams. You’re ready to be in the real world, making money. And everyone tells you to savor those moments as a college student but I – just like all the students who came before me and those who have and will come after – didn’t really believe it. Now that I’m three years out of school, though, I savor those memories of club meetings and hanging out in the dorms and walking through old campus. It was a great time in life and an experience I will be ever grateful for.

As someone posted on Twitter, “We’ve won a lot of yesterdays. We’ll win a lot of tomorrows. We just didn’t win today.” It’s always hard to not reach your goal, but I’d harken to say that being proud of your school and thankful for the time you spent there means that you’re already a winner – no matter what the scoreboard says.

Lessons from a quarterback: Focusing on mistakes gets you nowhere

Michigan State Football Team

My Michigan State Spartans have been struggling this year, but that doesn’t mean they don’t get back up and try again. We could all use that lesson every now and again. Photo credit: NCAAF–Fan IQ Blog

It’s hard to believe that we’re more than a quarter of the way through college football season already. When my Michigan State Spartans run on to the field and the fight song plays, I can’t help but get excited – even if it is just from my living room several states away.

But, here’s the thing – the Spartans have been struggling this season. It was almost laughable to watch the game of musical chairs happening at the quarterback position for the first few games and watching the defense score points almost as well as the offense. It’s “growing pains” like these that are hard to watch as a fan sometimes.

One of the things that does impress me, though, is that no matter what play gets screwed up or ball gets dropped or catch gets missed, the team can’t spend time dwelling on the mistake. They have no choice but to brush it off, learn from it and try to do better next time.

How many times do we need to take this lesson from our favorite football (or basketball or rugby or Quidditch) team and apply it to our personal or professional lives? As a perfectionist, I know I’m guilty of taking my mistakes or even “That didn’t go as well as it should have” moments way too personally. I waste time thinking “How could I have screwed that up? or “Why did I think ahead enough to prevent that?” and place the blame solely on my shoulders.

Instead, wouldn’t it be more productive if we thought “Now that we’re here, what can I do to fix this?” or “What can I learn from this to make it a better experience next time?” or “Is this really as bad as I’m making it out to be or does it only feel messed up because I know how it should have gone?” (a big one for many brides, I think). What if we thought less about punishing ourselves and more about personal growth? In my experience, you’re often the only one expecting perfection, so give yourself a break and learn from every “game”.

Because, remember, just because you took a sack doesn’t mean the next play won’t be a hail Mary straight to the end zone. Touchdown.

Missing Spartan football

While I loved my time at Michigan State (most of the time), there’s not a lot about college that I miss. Homework, exams, getting up early to go to class. All my college friends can keep those and I’ll keep my salary 🙂

However, one thing I do miss is the atmosphere surrounding college football season.

Tonight is the first MSU game of the season and I’m kind of sad that I’m not on campus to enjoy it. I miss the crowds that flock to East Lansing, the random shouts of “Go Green! Go White!” and the camaraderie you feel with people you don’t even know – just because they’re fellow Spartans. There’s something about college football – especially Big 10 football – that can’t be replaced.

So, I will be wearing my ‘Michigan State Agriculture’ T-shirt to work, decorating my desk with some Spartan stuff and finding a sports bar with Big 10 Network so I can catch at least part of the game. I may not be home, but I can still show my pride in being a Spartan during football season.

Go Green! Go White!

AgChat conference perfect for college aggies

Since I recently graduated from Michigan State (Go Green!) and just took an awesome full-time position a couple of days ago, I’d like to think that I’ve done a pretty good job at preparing for “the real world” and that I can offer some halfway decent advice to college students and recent graduates. My big piece of advice today for those college aggies out there: apply for the AgChat Foundation Agvocacy 2.0 Social Media Training Conference!

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Always more to learn

Sometimes when we’re in agriculture, we think we know it all. Heck, we know more about how food is grown that your typical food purchaser, right? Every so often, though, we get a slap in the face that says ‘Come down off your all-knowing high horse!’ and we’re reminded that there’s still plenty to learn, no matter if you’re conventional, organic, big, small, orange or purple (although, orange is still the best, in my opinion!).

A couple of months ago, I was offered the opportunity to do a technical article about a new ag chemical for an agricultural newspaper in the state. Of course, I said I’d do it – no problem. I’m in NAMA, I write for ANR Communications, I’ve freelanced, I’m a senior in the College of Agriculture and Natural Resources at Michigan State University — I can handle a technical piece about a new agricultural input. No sweat.

Psh, boy do I still have more to learn.

Besides realizing that a single Introduction to Crop Science class four years ago does not make me the next Norman Borlaug, I also figured out real quick that names of chemical compounds and active ingredients make about as much sense to me as Charlie Brown’s teacher. I’m really grateful there are scientists out there that understand how different chemicals and products can help farmers, but I’ll be the first to admit that I will not be joining their ranks any time soon. I will be plenty happy to continue learning as much as I can about segments of agriculture that I’m not familiar with so I can keep developing my abilities as an educator and communicator.

Have you ever run into a moment where you remembered ‘Oh, yeah. I don’t always know as much as I think I do.’ How do you get over it and learn?