By Sabrina Bong — One of my favorite parts of my practicum is being able to sit in on Nate’s junior conferences. All of the juniors meet with Nate individually and discuss their plans for senior year and post-graduation. It’s always interesting to hear what careers the students are interested in: doctors, nurses, firefighters, teachers, physical therapists, and communication specialists.
To see the joy and excitement – and some nervousness – on the faces of those who are preparing for graduation reminds me of when I was in their shoes, anxious and exhilarated about moving on to this next stage in my life. So when a student asked me about my college experience and what it was like to move away from home for the first time, I was prepared with an answer.
I started by saying that it’s a huge transition. You learn to adjust your time management skills, since you no longer have class a consistent eight hours a day. You learn how to keep yourself accountable for everything, since your parents are not there to remind you to do things. You cook, clean, and do your own laundry (and, unfortunately, you usually have to pay for it.) Sharing a dorm room with someone can also be an experience, especially if you two were randomly paired together by the college. You also have to walk everywhere, which necessitates stocking up on good tennis shoes and learning how to layer clothes.
She started looking a little worried, so I quickly hurried on. I told her that college was where she would meet some of the best friends in the world. I told her that she would learn creative ways to cook macaroni and cheese in the microwave. I told her that when I was in college, I would stay up late on weekends watching chick flicks with my roommate while eating ice cream right from the carton. She laughed and asked me what the hardest part about college was.
“What do you think the hardest part will be?” I asked her.
She paused, then said, “Getting through classes. I hear there’s a lot of homework.”
I agreed that sometimes, there is a lot of homework. I suggested that she get a planner and write everything down in it right away. That way, she wouldn’t be caught off-guard when a professor announced an assignment. I also told her about my bad habit of procrastination and warned her not to make the same mistakes I did.
She thanked me, told me it was nice to meet me, and left with her father. I sat there calmly, hoping that I had helped ease her fears about her post-graduation plans. Nate didn’t say anything at first, but then he commented that I had a really good rapport with the students we had been meeting with.
“But I haven’t done anything!” I told him. “I’ve been sitting in on their conferences and answering any questions they have about college.”
“You’ve been doing something,” Nate assured me. “You’ve been counseling.”
What a compliment.