Opinion: Don’t let college pass you by

One frigid day last semester I sprinted across campus for my grade. I had forgotten my book on the day of an open book quiz, the last one of the semester, and with my A hanging in the balance I made it to my apartment and back to the second floor of Barnett Hall in just under nine minutes. The day I ran across campus is also a decent representation of how I have navigated college.

Bethany Boyle gives a chart of suggestions of what to do before graduation.

For the last couple of years, I have lived in a constant state of motion, set on getting my degree and getting to the next adventure. However, as I stand on Truman State’s campus peering into the fog of the near and distant future beyond graduation, I realize that in my rush I have taken for granted and completely missed opportunities for relationships, learning and experiences I will never get back.

It’s depressing to realize I’ve gone four years saying I would hang out with friends from freshman year, the campus fellowship group and the swing dance team, and then failed to make it happen. Looking back, I see how I’ve neglected those who have made an effort to remain connected to me. I’ve made empty promises to “be in touch” or “hang out soon,” reminiscent of the happy hour scene from “He’s Just Not That Into You,” and things turned out just as well — I have nothing to show for it.

To my fellow seniors, we’re not out for the count yet. My advice is to make a list of people you’ve been meaning to touch base with. I have one on the wall of my room. I call it my joy list. Once or twice a week I try to reach out to a friend I haven’t talked to in a while and set up a time to hang out, get coffee, go thrifting or Skype. I tell every prospective student I’ve talked to that a big reason I came to Truman is for the people. We literally are surrounded by some of the most sincere, passionate, welcoming and brilliant individuals in the Midwest. I am determined to no longer overlook  this fact and am making an effort to better appreciate and engage with others on this campus.

I also wish I hadn’t lost sight of what an honor and privilege it is to get an education. My grandparents didn’t get to go to college. They fought in wars, raised children and made a life for themselves. Friends of mine are working hard to make it in the world, some with and some without a diploma. Currently, my biggest problems are getting my assignments in, logging enough sleep and deciding what to eat for lunch. Until this semester, I never quite grasped how good I have it here.

I regret not staying focused and not fully appreciating this time in college set aside to prepare me for the next stage of life. I wish I had approached each class with a solid work ethic and sense of wonder at the opportunity to learn new things.

So where do I go from here? Bottom line — it’s time to take stock of the time I do have left on this campus. I’m starting this off right by finally committing to go to the True Men concert tomorrow. It’s cringe-worthy to think I went seven semesters without attending a concert of one of Truman’s three a capella groups. Please don’t make the same mistake.

My hope is that it doesn’t stop there. With the Kohlenberg Lyceum events, Andy Grammer coming next week and a lot of swing dancing left this semester, there are bright spots on the horizon before the finish line. There’s no way to do it all, but with this perspective, I hope to turn days and nights wasted on web surfing into constructive experiences and quality time.

If it’s not too late for me, it’s not too late for you either, whether you have three months or three years left. My goal is to appreciate every day I have left at this institution, and I invite you to join me on this mission. The checklist below is specifically designed for you to cut out, fill in and tack up on your bulletin board or tape to your mirror. Catch up with the friends you’ve been meaning to call, put your best effort into your classes, and find some time to go to cool concerts and events. You only get one shot at this — make it count.

Bethany Boyle is a senior communication major from St. Louis, Mo.