As my third year here at Cornerstone University is winding down, it is finally starting to hit me that it won’t be too long before I graduate. That thought is both terrifying and exciting. I know there are a lot of high school seniors in a similar place right now as they are moving on to college, so I thought I would share some things I have learned throughout my time at Cornerstone.

Everyone has their own unique experience and writes their own story. Mine is all about learning to be myself. Three years ago, I was a shy girl who didn’t know anyone on campus, didn’t like social events and had only a faint inkling of what I wanted to do with my life. Now, as a senior, I can proudly say I have grown so much. As I prepare to leave and move on to the next chapter of my life, I know who I am.

Who Are You?

As I mentioned, I was a very different person when I first came to Cornerstone. I had opinions, beliefs and habits that were normal to me, but being at school opened my eyes to new perspectives.

Everyone you meet is going to come from a different background. You are going to meet people who have different experiences and opinions and that is in no way a bad thing. It provides you with an opportunity to grow and help others do the same.

The classes, students and faculty here challenge me to grow every day. They have walked with me in my faith, celebrated my successes, helped me learn from my mistakes and inspired me to follow my passions.

While I am sad to leave, I know where I am going and I know I am not alone.

Find Your People

Of the many things I have learned and experiences I have had, the thing I am most grateful for is the friends I have made along the way.

Freshmen, you are going to find a lot of other people who are in the same position as you. A lot of students won’t know many other people, so practically everyone is looking to form new relationships. It might be challenging to take the first step, but I can promise you it will be worth it.

Around the time of the annual campus powder puff football game my freshman year, I had been talking to a couple of girls in my hall. We were not up for playing but decided we would go all in supporting our team by making signs. We went to the dollar store and bought supplies and cheered our hearts out holding our glittery signs while our team won the game. Next thing I know, it’s two years later and these girls have become like family.

Building relationships doesn’t have to be limited to your classmates either. I have been blessed to connect with a number of faculty members who have become mentors to me. One of our psychology professors, Dr. Nicole McDonald, encouraged me to explore expressive therapies, which ultimately made me change my future plans from traditional counseling to art therapy.

The people I met have had such a profound impact on my life and who I have come to be that I really don’t know where I would be without them. They are what I am most grateful for, and I hope everyone gets to experience that, though it does take some work on your end.

Get Out Of Your Comfort Zone

You will probably hear this a lot, especially during your freshman year, but get out of your comfort zone.

I was very intimidated by social events. Generally, I was the type of person who preferred to stay in my room where I felt safe—don’t do that! This is the perfect time to put yourself out there. Cornerstone has a bunch of events for incoming freshmen that might seem a bit bizarre at first, but are crazy fun.

While you are at it, take some courses outside of your major. The beauty of a liberal arts college is that you get to experience so many different avenues of learning. Take advantage of it. I might have never discovered some of my interests like art therapy if I didn’t take a chance and explore some new classes. College is built on opportunities, so take advantage of all of them!

I hope this eases some stress you might have about college and helps you get excited about the new opportunities that await you. Just remember to never be afraid of being yourself. I hope you are able to have a transformative college experience like I did at Cornerstone. And hey, this might just be the perfect place to help you grow, so come visit or apply today.