Three seniors offer suggestions for success to first-year students

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    This spring’s seniors have some parting advice for the class of 2019.

    Having passion, dealing with grades and professors and managing stress are all part of college, the three graduates said.

    Cody Westphal, student body president and senior economics major, stressed the importance of first-year students finding their passion early in college.

    Westphal said students should first get involved broadly to find what interests them most.

    “Once you find your passion and you find it early, you can dedicate a lot of time to that and make a big impact,” he said. “The best job is done when you do something because you like it, not because you have to.”

    Westphal said he found his passion because he loves serving others and working hard on behalf of people other than himself. He said he discovered what he wanted to do as a first-year student at an activities fair.

    “I didn’t know anything about what I wanted to do at that age,” Westphal said. “I always knew I liked serving in leadership and loved politics and government—then I ran for treasurer of Student Government Association and wanted to keep doing it, so I ran for president.”

    Westphal also said he believes it is important that first-year students put in effort if they want to make the most out of their college experience. The important things are showing up and taking initiative, he said.

    “Some of the people in SGA that I can rely on the most are first-year students,” he said. “I can lean on them because I know they care and they’re passionate about it. 

    “That’s where the impact is—when you show what you can do and what can be done,” said Westphal.

    The seniors had advice for first-year students dealing with academics as well.

    Elizabeth Greenwell, a senior strategic communication major, said students should not freak out too much over grades.

    “Don’t get bogged down in the grade,” Greenwell said. “Don’t let them upset you—now that I’m a senior I learn more and more that with employers, experience matters a lot more than grades.”

    Greenwell also advised first-year students to take full advantage of meeting with their professors.

    “The professors at TCU are so qualified. Just go to their office hours if you’re in trouble,” she said. “Remember that they are real people and just try to get to know them as a person, and go in and ask for help if you need it.”

    College is a new experience for first-year students and for some, the stress is inevitable.

    Alexandra Stuart, a senior nursing major, shared her own way of dealing with the stresses of school.

    “For me, it’s been the little things like knowing what makes me happy and doing those things,” she said. “Either I’ll read a book one day or sit down and watch ‘Gilmore Girls.’”

    Stuart said her friends and family have helped her through the stress of academics and rough times her past four years. She said it’s beneficial for first-year students to check in with their family by calling them often.

    Greenwell also has her own mechanisms to deal with stress that first-year students can adopt as well.

    “If you have a really stressful week, just try and plan out what every hour of your day is going to look like,” Greenwell said. “Get outside—go take a walk with someone or get Chipotle and decompress.”

    “The best way to deal with stress is to not stress about it more,” she said.