The Juggling Act

At the University of Delaware, you can’t go a day without being somehow encouraged to take part in a fundraiser, join a club, or apply for some position. UD is a mecca for student organizations, from residence life to Greek life, from honors societies to registered student organizations (RSOs), from community service to student government to cultural clubs to campus publications. They are opportunities to explore  interests, meet people, and get plugged in on campus, and they are everywhere.

When I first set foot on campus I was absolutely exhilarated by this. My first student activities night consisted of me bounding from booth to booth and putting my name down for anything that sparked my interest- even the slightest bit. Brazilian jiu-jitsu? I’m there. UD Scuba? Sign me up. Every event I got emailed about got penciled into my calendar. Every flyer I got handed was secured to my refrigerator with a magnet. I wanted to try it all. You don’t want to pass up opportunities, right? And who says I don’t have a knack for swing dancing?

Unfortunately, it soon became clear that this eccentric lifestyle could not last. Duties began falling through the cracks and my time spent sleeping began to dwindle. No matter how hard I tried, I simply could not do it all.  I was forced to give some of these activities up, feeling a sense of defeat rather than relief. I felt that I was not making the most of my college experience.

As a college student, there’s a subtle, or perhaps not so subtle pressure to take advantage of every opportunity you encounter. At a campus full of go-getters and do-it-all-ers, “Get involved” could very well be the unofficial mantra. Each involvement opportunity is a chance to better understand and develop your skills and interests, expand your network, build up that oh-so-important resume, and make your mark on the University. If you pass on just one you feel like you’re missing a chance to fulfill your potential, and perhaps even eliminating career opportunities in the future. But while this “do everything” proposal is inspiring in theory, when 300+ opportunities are presented to you, it becomes clear that it simply isn’t realistic.

The more responsibilities you take on, the less you can devote to each one. Rather than pouring yourself into a select few roles and seeing them to their full potential, you begin to do just enough cover the bases. You find yourself fulfilling your tasks out of obligation, rather than out of passion for the task itself. In this way, you’re eliminating the element that inspired your initial participation. And most likely missing out on more sleep than is healthy.

It’s been said that, “it doesn’t matter how many things you do, but how well you do them.” It is better to carefully choose just a few activities you’re truly passionate about and really do them right, than to pointlessly overextend yourself. Being “involved” doesn’t mean dabbling in a bit in everything, but being genuinely invested in what you are a part of.

So yes, try new things. Definitely explore. Absolutely get involved. Just make sure when you do, it’s not because you feel pressured, but because you truly care.

 ~Victoria, Class of 2016

Embrace the Mistakes

“You’re going to college!”

“How exciting!”

“Make the most of these four years, they go fast!”

“Try new things, get involved!”

“But don’t over-extend yourself!”

“Remember, you’re there to learn, school comes first!”

“Be well-rounded though, don’t lock yourself up in the library!”

“Have fun!”

“But not too much fun!”

           

As soon as I committed to the University of Delaware, it seemed any conversation I had was centered on, or at least full of advice on how to go about making the most of my college experience. Aunts, uncles, family friends, friends-of-friends, even my dentist had a word or two of counsel on how to do college “right.” They were valuable pieces of information, wise words based on years of experience, and I knew they would be useful to keep in mind. However, by the time I was pulling up to my residence hall on move-in day, they had accumulated to the point that I felt more paralyzed than empowered.

 

As I began to try and make decisions, I found myself second-guessing everything. Was that actually the best use of my time? Should I go to bed early or stay up a little later and work ahead? Does hanging out with friends and being social tonight make the most sense, or should I hit the books? With all the guidance I had been provided, I felt I was equipped to have the ideal freshman year, so each day had to go exactly right. I didn’t just want to have the perfect year; I was supposed to have the perfect year. In my book of “how to do college,” there was no margin for error.

 

Well freshman year came and went, and it was far from perfect. I made plenty of mistakes, slept through my fair share of classes, and mixed up the deadline for more than one assignment. On the other hand, I also joined several organizations that further developed my interests, took classes that inspired me, and made friends that are still my closest friends today. Some exams went better than others, there were good days and bad days, but overall, I look back on that year as a success. I left more than prepared for my sophomore year, and with plenty of fond memories to take with me.

 

It didn’t matter that each day didn’t achieve a perfect balance of work and play. It wasn’t important that my every action was directly related to my college success story. It wasn’t a big deal that I hadn’t followed every piece of advice I had ever gotten to a tee. I had turned out more than fine, and so had my freshman year. It wasn’t perfect, but it was perfect in its imperfection.

 

The irony is that in trying to make your college experience perfect, in attempting to successfully implement all that advice you accumulate, you make the biggest mistake of all. You will come to expect perfection, and then end up facing disappointment all year.

 

If I could go back to that first move-in day, as I stood in an empty dorm room that was as clean and bare as the freshman year that stretched out before me, I would have added one more piece of advice to the list: embrace the mistakes. It’s okay to strive for the ideal freshman year, to try your best to follow all the words of wisdom bestowed upon on you, but it’s equally okay to recognize that shortcomings are inevitable. In fact, it’s okay to anticipate them. Then, when you do encounter them, you don’t have to view them as failures, but rather something to accept and then put behind you.

 

Because chances are, you are going to have a great freshman year, mistakes and all. It won’t be perfect, but it will be wonderful.

~Victoria, Class of 2016

 

 

 

 

Memories of NSO

For the University of Delaware, summer means its time for a new freshmen class to populate campus, a campus they’ll be able to call their own for the first time. It is time for New Student Orientation, popularly known as, “NSO.”

 

NSO is a day that is as nerve-wracking as it is exhilarating, a time when your excitement for college is only matched by anxiousness about whatever the year might bring. You probably changed your outfit for three times and still aren’t completely satisfied with the final decision, (or maybe that’s just me). You smile for your ID picture and hope desperately that an image you’ll carry with you these next few years isn’t a complete disaster. You listen to each presentation with painstaking focus but still don’t feel like you totally get it.

 

However, it is also a day when you are in awe of the Orientation Leaders having so much energy so early in the morning. It is also a day when your stress about picking classes is significantly lessened after a one-on-one session with an adviser. It is also a day when you look at the students and setting around you and realize with growing eagerness that this place is beginning to feel like home.

 

I remember NSO, and all these aspects, vividly. But something I don’t always appreciate now that I’m on the other side is just how intimidating that day was as a rising freshman. That day symbolized beginning the transition from high school to college, the first step on a bridge to university life. I often forget that that step was little short of terrifying to me.

 

Instead, I look at the Class of 2018 with envy, for they are making a transition that in hindsight, appears perfectly manageable. The reality that awaits them is college, an enriching and invigorating reality I have come to know and love. This reality isn’t frightening anymore- it’s fun. Additionally, they will have mentors and professional assistants helping them along they way as they make the adjustment. The transition that looked like a long and rickety rope bridge to me as a rising freshmen, I regard now as a mere hop from one side of the road to the other.

 

I am preoccupied now with another transition that looms ahead of me. It is the change from university life to “real life.” My entry into this real world is what intimidates me now, for this transition is surely more difficult, surely more worthy of nervous anticipation than the one between high school and college.

 

But is it, though?

 

It is easy to look back at NSO, recognize how well everything turned out and how smoothly everything went, and say that transition wasn’t a big deal. It’s easy to belittle the transitions of the past and tell yourself that the one right ahead of you, that’s the one you need to worry about. Easy to say, easy to believe, but it’s not the truth.

 

The fact is, that transition was scary. But I was prepared for it, more prepared then I realized, and just as prepared as I will be when it comes time to graduate college. Watching the Class of 2018 go through NSO each day is a good reminder of that. If they are as half as nervous as I was, they’re awfully nervous. They’re also going to be just as okay I was, just as okay as my Class of 2016 will be as we go off into the world at the end of these 4 years.

 

To me, NSO is many things, but most of all, it is a poignant representation of transition. It is a picture of one of many changes we have to undergo as human beings, and it is a reminder of how worthwhile and manageable those changes turn out to be. Class of 2018, (and every class that comes after you), you guys are going to be just fine.

~Victoria, Class of 2016

Jacki WahlquistMajor: Music ManagementGraduating Year: 2014Hometown: Mount Laurel, NJExtracurricular Activities: University of Delaware Blue Hen Application Manager University of Delaware Symphony Orchestra, Flute ProjectMUSIC Visiting Artist University of Delaware Community Music School Junior Faculty Flute Teacher Member of Sigma Alpha Iota Music Fraternity for Women Member of Crazy Pitches Flute Quartet University of Delaware Music Department Audition Day Volunteer Prospective Music Major Weekend Host
(Click here to read Jacki’s blog!)

Jacki Wahlquist
Major: Music Management
Graduating Year: 2014
Hometown: Mount Laurel, NJ

Extracurricular Activities:
University of Delaware Blue Hen Application Manager
University of Delaware Symphony Orchestra, Flute
ProjectMUSIC Visiting Artist
University of Delaware Community Music School Junior Faculty Flute Teacher
Member of Sigma Alpha Iota Music Fraternity for Women
Member of Crazy Pitches Flute Quartet
University of Delaware Music Department Audition Day Volunteer
Prospective Music Major Weekend Host

(Click here to read Jacki’s blog!)

Abby BarberMajor: Energy and Environmental PolicyMinors: Economics and Public PolicyGraduating Year: 2014Hometown: Greenville, DEExtracurricular Activities:Blue Hen Leadership ProgramStudy Abroad AmbassadorsDiversity Enrichment LeaderSocial Media AmbassadorGamma Sigma Sigma
(Click here to read Abby’s blog!)

Abby Barber
Major: Energy and Environmental Policy
Minors: Economics and Public Policy
Graduating Year: 2014
Hometown: Greenville, DE

Extracurricular Activities:
Blue Hen Leadership Program
Study Abroad Ambassadors
Diversity Enrichment Leader
Social Media Ambassador
Gamma Sigma Sigma

(Click here to read Abby’s blog!)

Tony VacaroMajor: Mechanical Engineering with an Aerospace concentrationMinor: MathematicsGraduating Year: 2014Hometown: Newtown, CT
Extracurricular Activities:Resident Assistant for the Christiana Towers Christiana Towers Green TeamUDASME (UD chapter of American Society of Mechanical Engineers)Alpha Lambda Delta Honor’s SocietyIntramural Soccer/Basketball
(Click here to read Tony’s blog!)

Tony Vacaro
Major: Mechanical Engineering with an Aerospace concentration
Minor: Mathematics
Graduating Year: 2014
Hometown: Newtown, CT


Extracurricular Activities:
Resident Assistant for the Christiana Towers
Christiana Towers Green Team
UDASME (UD chapter of American Society of Mechanical Engineers)
Alpha Lambda Delta Honor’s Society
Intramural Soccer/Basketball

(Click here to read Tony’s blog!)

Kristen Danek
Major: Environmental EngineeringMinors: Economics & Civil EngineeringGraduating Year: 2016Hometown: Bath, PA
Extracurricular Activities: UD Alternative Spring Breaks (UDaB)Honors Program Senior FellowHarrington Theatre Arts Company (HTAC) - Stage CrewEnvironmental Engineering Student AssociationSociety of Women EngineersCentral Campus Green TeamStudents for the Environment
(Click here to read Kristen’s blog)

Kristen Danek

Major: Environmental Engineering
Minors: Economics & Civil Engineering
Graduating Year: 2016
Hometown: Bath, PA

Extracurricular Activities:
UD Alternative Spring Breaks (UDaB)
Honors Program Senior Fellow
Harrington Theatre Arts Company (HTAC) - Stage Crew
Environmental Engineering Student Association
Society of Women Engineers
Central Campus Green Team
Students for the Environment

(Click here to read Kristen’s blog)