Celebrating 1 Year on My College Advice

Well, friends and readers, here we are. One year on in this experiment in blogging.

Leaping off a sand dune on Bull Island, near Dublin. 

Leaping off a sand dune on Bull Island, near Dublin. 

One year ago I had just recently graduated from my Master’s in Human Rights Law in Galway. I was two months out of my twenty straight years in classrooms, and in those two months I had already started to go a bit crazy. I missed writing essays. I missed having assigned readings. I missed classroom discussion and interactions with professors and peers. I missed the feel of being on campus and part of a student body: the easy camaraderie and energy, and the dynamic of walking familiar pathways each day in pursuit of deeper knowledge and the obtainable, defined goal of graduation.

In October 2013, I was deep in post-graduation nostalgia. I was asking myself, “What’s next? What will my life after college look like?” I was searching for patterns and projects that would bridge my student life to the “real world” life I was just starting to build.

So I started My College Advice, and on October 27, 2013 I posted the first blog post, cleverly titled “The First Blog.” (Which, of course, should have been titled “The First Blog POST,” but who’s keeping track of these things, anyway?)

I began this experience as an exercise in creative nostalgia. I missed being a student. I was good at being a student, and I wasn’t yet sure I’d be good at “real life.” I had also spent seven years perfecting many elements of the student experience—how to effectively prepare for essay writing, how to write a thesis (after all, I have written three at this point), and how to strategically utilize internships and study abroad experiences.

The intention was to set down some of the best strategies and stories from my college years. I hoped to provide advice that would be of material, emotional, and preparatory benefit to motivated students out there, seeking to get the most out of their college experiences. I started with simpler subjects, like essay writing, scheduling classes, and how to get into “closed” classes. But almost from the start, I also wanted to write about the more emotional/personal aspects of college life—how to approach projects with “relentless positivity;” how writing things down can change your aspirations and improve your memories of your college years; and the importance of creating and being part of a community off campus as well as in the student population.

Some of my friends worried that I would quickly run through all the advice I might have to offer. They were concerned that the insights available in the world of university experiences were finite and that I would find myself writing in circles or growing tired of the topic.

They were wrong.

What I’ve learned

I have more left to write about than I could ever have imagined one year ago. I want to write about creativity in career paths and advice for conducting research interviews. I want to explore college friendships and how they are different from all other relationships I’ve had in my life. I want to use the medium of my blog to share the voices of friends and interesting strangers who can cast a light on an enormous range of experiences, from fields of study different from my own to personal circumstances outside those I can offer from my time.

I have all kinds of dreams for this space, from creating a podcast to perhaps finding a way to do some coaching or consulting.

To all of you who have stuck with me on this journey, or have encountered me recently for the first time, thank you. Thank you for reading, and for allowing me to take my experiences outside of my own life and to make them into something useful for others. Thank you particularly to anyone who has taken the time to respond to my writing in the comments, with an emailed question, or who have tweeted, facebooked, or spoken to me in person.

It’s easy to sometimes feel that blogging is writing out into the infinite void. Thank you to all of you who have gotten in touch to make sure I know that I haven’t been posting an extremely long-winded and largely unseen public diary.

What’s coming

I have some very exciting plans for this space. Some great guest bloggers will be contributing over the next few months, including writing from an engineering student; hopefully several posts on disability issues on campuses; a personal account of transferring a liberal arts degree into a tech job; and hopefully more.

On a personal note, there are several big changes on the horizon for me, and some interesting recent developments that hold serious potential for advice down the road.

Looking ahead to October 2015, I hope to still be offering my thoughts and opinions here on the blog. I can only imagine what I’ll learn in the process, and what fabulous people will cross my path as a result.

Stick with me! We’ve got miles to go here together.

If any of you fabulous readers have specific suggestions, requests, questions I could answer, topics I should cover, or guest writers I should approach, please just let me know!