Autumn is just around the corner! With the arrival of chilly weather, wool sweaters and pumpkin spice lattes, we students know a new quarter is underway. This time of year is undoubtedly full of excitement, especially as UW Tacoma students make their grand entrance onto campus.

As we brace ourselves for the challenges ahead — soaking in every last ray of summer sunshine — it is important to recognize the clean slate afforded new students. No matter your story, college is an opportunity to begin anew and start over. It is crucial to recognize this blessing from the get-go and accept the blank canvas gift.

The potential for this clean slate is relatively endless. Depending on the individual, it could look or feel like anything! You ultimately decide how and where college will impact your life — there are new friends to meet, majors to pursue, and adventures to embark on. 

For instance, I began my college career in 2015 — after two community colleges and a household move from California, I finally landed within my dream program at UWT of Environmental Sustainability. I am nowhere near the person I was in high school and for that I am thankful. Total acceptance of the clean slate has instilled in me confidence both academically and personally — something my teenage-self would have never deemed possible.

In high school, the term GPA would absolutely terrify me — any mention of it and I would run in the opposite direction. College has flipped the script and education has absolutely skyrocketed on my priority list. Escaping the societal pressures of high school — and its overall angst — has exponentially aided my academic abilities.

If you have a comfort zone, expect college to persuade you out of this safety bubble. Yes, hold on to your values and moral standings, but permit yourself to try new things: join clubs, speak up in class, and befriend fellow classmates. While these things are outside of my own comfort zone, participating in them has positively benefited my personal growth. 

Wherever you are coming from — whatever your past consists of — college is absolutely yours to discover. Your previous story might be high school, the military, or even life itself, but now is your chance to begin anew. There will inevitably be mistakes along the way, but learn from them and use any newfound knowledge to your advantage. 

The college pathway is inundated with countless character-building scenarios. There is an experience waiting behind every program and organization — especially when it comes to establishing connections with fellow students and faculty members. If an opportunity catches your eye, do not hesitate to investigate — it may just change your life.

Life rarely hands us an eraser or says, ‘Here, let’s try that again.’ This is not to encourage a complete withdrawal from your educational and personal past — of course extrapolate the beneficial knowledge gained. Rather, remember the past — the lessons learned — but do not allow it to define your future.Despite the past, college presents an opportunity to restructure the path previously paved. There is no doubt a sense of nervousness surrounding the upcoming school year, but it is important to remain optimistic. Recognize the gift college is — a clean slate, open-ended, gift — and decide how this collegiate opportunity will shape you.

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