RYAN EZELLE: Don’t be afraid to break a sweat in college

By Ryan Ezelle

This time of year, high school might seem to be still getting into the swing of things – writing essays, attending pep rallies, the usual – but for all you juniors and seniors out there, this time is probably coming closer to an end than a beginning.
Whether you welcome this change (or, at least, the freedom from parents it represents) or are tentatively holding onto the security of your old school and friends, never fear! College is sure to be an exciting and likely life-altering experience, as I for one can attest.
Here are a few tips for breaking into college life from someone who has been there (and still is).
Inevitably, the first step of transitioning to college is actually finding one to attend, one that [fingers crossed] is right for you. An important decision like this shouldn’t be taken lightly, of course, but it also shouldn’t be stressed over. Almost every school available, at least here in Mississippi, will have similar opportunities for getting a good education while still making new friends and having fun along the way.
The most important thing to do while picking a school – after actually visiting them – is to weigh your options carefully and objectively: Which ones carry majors you’re interested in? Which ones make sense economically for you and your family? Which ones do you just plain feel more drawn to?
The one question that actually shouldn’t matter much is, “Where are all my friends going?” I promise that you will meet more than enough friends wherever you decide to go, and your high school buddies will be sure to visit home just as much as you will.
Once at school, be sure to keep yourself open to opportunities that come your way. I go to Ole Miss, and sometimes it can seem like you’re being bombarded with all the possibilities: academic clubs, Greek organizations, intramural sports and so much more. One can easily fall into the trap of trying to be and do too much, but don’t let this deter you from following your interests or finding new ones.
As a freshman, I joined the Model United Nations – which followed my own interests in international issues – and also the Ole Miss Ambassadors, the school’s student-led recruiting organization. Whatever your interests, though, rest assured you can find an outlet for them and friends who share those passions.
Just like in high school, classes can and will be hard sometimes, but the most important factor in making an A, B or F will not be the difficulty of classes but your willingness to place them as a priority.
I have yet to hear those who actually do their homework complain about unfair grades. Professors love when students take a genuine interest and participate in class, regardless of whether or not you answer correctly or agree with their opinions, so try to cultivate relationships with them as well as with fellow students. Also, never underestimate the power of naps (in moderation) as a remedy for school-related stress.
College in a nutshell: don’t sweat it, but don’t be afraid to break a sweat when you need to. It may sound corny, but this is likely to be one of the best times in your life. Take advantage of it and make it worth that title!
Ryan Ezelle, a junior from Union, is majoring in international studies and Spanish. He is a student director of the Sally McDonnell Barksdale Honors College and a tutor at the University Writing Center.

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