Letter to the College Undergrad

My advice for the high schoolers and college undergrads. It shares my unexpected road to Richmond and both the reality and magic of my experience there.

This was written the nights leading up to graduation, but I finally sat down long enough to post it:)

letter to the college undergrad

Letter to the College Undergrad

As I am getting ready for my actual graduation day, I wanted to reflect back and write a little bit about my experience over the last four years– in a way that is honest and real. Now that I’m leaving it all behind, I have nothing to lose by sharing all of my #realtalk advice, right?! If you have graduated college as well (congrats!) then hopefully you can find bits and pieces of this to be relatable. But this is mainly for the college undergrad-those who are high school (I’m v sorry about those SATs) or still in college (lucky you!).

I don’t think that I’ve shared this before but I was actually waitlisted at the University of Richmond. I was waitlisted at a few schools actually, though Richmond was my above all “dream school” by the end of the process. I’m the kind of person who wants to get things DONE and do them right the first time. I actually applied ED to another school in August (not even really having Richmond on my radar yet), and thought I would be accepted and done with the college process by October at the latest. But, oh no, God laughed at that and had much better plans in store. But before it got better, it got worse.

As I kept getting rejection, deferment, and waitlist letters all year long I was miserable. I developed brutal anxiety and jaw pain that went undiagnosed for months and I didn’t know what was going on (thankfully since then, this has since been taken care of substantially). When deadlines started coming around in late spring, I actually ended up putting a deposit down on another school, but still maintained some crazy long-shot hope that Richmond would work out. I had so many high expectations for myself, and as people kept asking “Where are you going to go to school? Are you excited?!” the knot kept growing bigger in my chest. Then, I got a call in mid-May from the University of Richmond director of admissions, telling me that I had received a spot off the waitlist. I accepted it as soon as the offer left his mouth. I can still picture my mom clasping the phone as she opened the door when I got home from school (after taking some horrid AP test, ha), she gasp-cried, “Amy, the University of Richmond just called for you and wants you to call them right away.” We never looked back.

Life As A College Undergrad

Since I had such a tough senior year of high school, I went into college with the mentality that I was going to make the most of it. And now, looking back I can smile big and say that I did. I went into orientation thinking, “I want to do it all!” and I’m so thankful I did. In the first six months of my college career, I ran for and became a student government senator, pledged and joined a business fraternity, rushed and joined a sorority, and found a contemporary Christian service for students that I adored. Oh, and I started I Believe in Pink 🙂 (That was before I knew any other bloggers that were college students, so it was not particularly a normal thing to do at the time, ha). I came in hot and learned so much so fast…

Over the next three and a half years I learned that calculus wasn’t for me and designed my own major (one that encompassed marketing, journalism, and communication), lived in Prague and traveled everywhere I possibly could, landed my dream internship at Lilly Pulitzer, had the best time as the recruitment chair for Theta, watched my actual little sister become a Theta at Vanderbilt, and met a very tall boy who loves the ocean and country music just as much as I do (and who is a future accountant so he makes up for my negative calculus skills, ha ;)). I found mentors, an “older sister” (@LizaBart my big), and five best friends who definitely treat me more like a sister than a best friend, ha. These were the major highlights. They are experiences that I never, ever thought I would be lucky enough to have, especially while I was so anxious and stressed my senior year of high school.

But as it is in real life, college was not all daisies and laughter. A lot of times were really hard. In fact, I struggled to keep up in the business pre-requisites when I came in freshman year, which made me question if I should have even gotten into Richmond at all (talk about a harsh question). Likewise, I had two different roommates freshman year who both ended up transferring. I found it to be really tough to create my own major and overcome the hurdles to do so. Honestly, I had many moments of frustration and anxiety while living abroad. I watched some of my best friends get really hurt. I put everything into everything that I did but oftentimes fell short or regretted how I acted when I had a ton of things on my plate. Moreover, I frequently felt overwhelmed– at one point I was planning my days down to the minute. There were countless times where I would be running around campus from class to a meeting, hands full of boxes and coffee and goodness knows what else, sweating and thinking “what’s the point??!”

BUT those tough realities and the hard, unglamorous moments of my college experience were far outnumbered by the happiness and love I felt throughout it. Instead, I look back now and remember my dad walking me down the stairs at my Junior year Ring Dance, scream-crying during my senior video that my Little (@E) made me, hosting Christmas tree lighting ceremonies with my roommates in nearly every dorm I lived in, walking down tulip-lined brick sidewalks on my way to class… and so many more magical moments. I can tell you, when high school or college gets stormy and confusing, there is so, so much sunshine and clarity ahead, and it will overcome it all.

And now I’m proud to say that I went from waitlist to dean’s list (though I have to brag here that my five best girlfriends are hands-down the smartest people I know and they are going to run the WORLD soon enough, though they already run mine?). And I realized that of course, all along, there was a point to all the madness of college: I was finally doing all of the activities I loved, and studying topics I loved, on a campus and in a city I love. Richmond stole my heart and was well worth the wait.

Takeaways For The College Undergrad

So I would say that my takeaways from all of this are that patience is in trusting God’s timing, and everything works out if you give it hustle and heart. To the college undergrad, my other takeaways have to be:

  1. Call your parents. Keep them busy at home 😉 Ha, kidding! My parents saved me again and again and again throughout my time at school. As in, I couldn’t have even dreamt up cooler or more supportive people.
  2. Eat everything. Like, everything. We have the rest of our lives to try to be skinny. Order the damn Domino’s.
  3. Spend all of your money. Hahaha– kidding, kind of. But treat yourself now while you still can because soon enough you’ll be living out of an overpriced apartment trying to collect change for some Whole Foods peonies. (Believe me, I’m apartment hunting now :))

Now, I’m so looking forward to starting this very new and exciting next season of my life. But first, for the next two months, I’m going to relax and take some time for myself. Goodness knows I need to slow down and catch my breath after the craziest, hardest, and most fun, rewarding, and memorable years of my entire life. Thank you for following along. Get ready for what’s next! Let’s celebrate!!!  xx