Features Features

Senior Advice to their Freshman Selves

The Greek Amphitheater during a pre-COVID-19 commencement ceremony. Photo from pointloma.edu.

As the spring season begins, seniors at Point Loma Nazarene University move closer to their commencement ceremonies scheduled for June 2021. All those studious late nights at Ryan Library typing over 10-page essays for STEM majors and countless chapel attendances are about to finally be rewarded. As seniors order their cap and gowns and prepare for midterms, they may feel a bit nostalgic about their last few months at PLNU. 

This year, many college students around the globe are expected to either graduate in socially distanced ceremonies or virtually from the safety of their homes. Education Data records 487,890 college students graduate annually in the state of California. Thousands of these soon-to-be California graduates all had their first day of college courses years ago. Walking to classes with textbooks in hand, their first meal at the Caf not knowing where to sit and taking the campus shuttle for the first time are distant memories for students attending the beachside university. Nobody was truly prepared for their first year of college, but if PLNU seniors had the chance to do it all over again, what would they do differently? 

PLNU seniors graduating this June were asked one simple question: What is one piece of advice you would give yourself as a freshman about to enter undergraduate university? 

Shane Hoyle, a literature and english education major, would advise himself “to trust the process of college and relax.” 

Hoyle, during freshman year, thought that it was him versus other students in his class. Now he realizes people are on his side.

 “Students, professors and staff just want you to enjoy college and expect you to make mistakes. I tried my hardest to avoid mistakes and that only led to more,” said Hoyle.

The soon-to-be graduate said the crazy freshmen antics such as missing a deadline or being late to class due to losing track of time exploring Sunset Cliffs is part of the newcomer experience. Hoyle surprised himself as he learned these scenarios are not uncommon in college and are actually part of the process. He said, “There’s always time for more fun and silliness, because that’s what you’ll cherish. It’s also not cool to be too cool for school.”

Sydney Spradley, an exercise sports science major, has three rules for her younger self: Make time for herself, take the easier general education classes as an upperclassman and take in as much of the PLNU experience as possible. Spradley uses the classic preacher example of how to prioritize things in your life. She said, “It’s like putting rocks in a jar. If you put the sand in first and then the big rocks, the big rocks are going to be hard to get to the bottom. If you put the big rock in first and then the sand, then everything fits nicely!”

As her time on campus is almost over, Spradley takes rule number three to heart. By connecting with others and never forgetting to smile, she reminds herself to be present in the moment because there will never be a similar time as now. 

“Point Loma is in fact paradise, so take a minute to breathe and remind yourself how blessed you are that so many events lined up to get you to this place. Make it a point to never take PLNU for granted because before you can even blink, you’ll be graduating,” said Spradley. 

“One piece of advice I would give myself as a freshman about to enter undergraduate school would be that things take time,” said marketing major Victoria Russell. She believes it takes time to adjust during the first year of college. Making new friends, getting comfortable in college courses and learning to grow as a university student in a new environment requires patience with oneself. 

“There is plenty of time to determine your path and purpose,” said Russell. “Also get out of your comfort zone. Because once you do, so many opportunities will be shown to you.” 

Bronson Bowdich is a global business management major. If there was one piece of advice he could give his freshman self it would be to savor the time he has at PLNU because it goes by fast. 

“We all hear this all the time, but it couldn’t be more true,” said Bowdich. “Take time to live in the present and grow with the people around you. And no matter what, don’t be a quitter, always persevere.” 

If Ashley Manzo, business administration and marketing major, had the chance to give her freshman self one form of advice, it would be not to feel the need to be part of just one friend group. 

“College is all about meeting new people and so I would tell myself that it’s okay to do stuff by yourself, it doesn’t mean you’re a loner,” said Manzo.

Many like Manzo have dealt with the pressure of sitting alone at the Caf, worried others might question the decision of eating solo. But Manzo learned sitting alone is nothing to fear because that is where the most memorable friendships can be made. 

“There are so many amazing people on this campus,” said Manzo. “I love having a diverse set of friends rather than a single group.” 

Soon, the Greek amphitheater will become a sea of green and yellow. With the time left, take a word of advice from biology major Brittney Shaw and be thankful for “the friends that are there for a season and the friends for life.” 

Before PLNU students know it, they will no longer be attending chapel times or listening to lectures. Embrace and love every moment left. Finally, take marketing major Hannah Hunt’s advice and watch the sunset every night you can. 
Special thanks to the Instagram account, @plnu2021 for their help in gathering seniors’ advice.

By: Kylie Miller