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Returning to Campus and Redoing it Right

by Joanne Stirrup, Product Specialist

My freshman year of college was far from perfect, but it’s the last time I made any memories on Georgetown’s campus. As a rising junior now, I’m so excited to finally return to that space in the fall, but admittedly, I have some hesitations. The hilltop I remember was often a lonely one– and while I had many good days, I also had many tough ones that jut out of my pre-COVID memory. But much has changed in the past year and a half, and I’m hoping that my on-campus experience can be part of that shift as well. This year is my redo.

Because this upcoming semester holds so much potential, I want to make sure I do it right. For the past few weeks, I’ve looked to my friends who have more years of on-campus experience for guidance on personal growth and advice for my return. Here’s what they had to say:

1. Vulnerability is powerful.

Much of American culture is built on vilifying vulnerability, but there is a great benefit to showing this, as my friend reminded me the other night. Vulnerability is a way to foster relationships, especially in a time when we’ve all been so disconnected. A bit of honesty about where we all are, how we’ve gotten through it, and what we hope to do next could bring us all together.

2. There will always be another night to stay in.

One of my closest friends and fellow Product Specialist Jenna Ranney offered this piece of advice to me, which is particularly important because it is something I didn’t adhere to in my first year. I turned down a handful of fun nights for naps or a movie with my roommate because it was a comfortable social situation, but with what I know now, I would’ve appreciated more time outside in group settings. So, as I commit to making this year better, I know that I have to pass on passing up opportunities for the sake of security.

3. Take initiative.

It’s important to remember that social opportunities do not only have to come to you–– you can also make them happen by taking initiative. My friend suggested that I use these times to try something new –– like exploring a part of D.C. I’ve never seen before–– while also making new friends

4. Reconnect with acquaintances from pre-COVID college.

While finding new people to interact with is always an exciting possibility, it’s helpful to remember the acquaintances from a year and a half ago. I’m going to look out for familiar faces–– not only because they are inviting–– but because there is so much we have to catch up on.

5. Do what you want to do, not things you think you have to do.

I’m closing with this advice because it’s a conversation I’ve had several times in the past few years, and yet I am still intimately working to follow it. The pressure to build a resume is often much stronger than passion, but it’s important to weigh the costs of unsustainable labor. However, as I return to campus soon, I’m going to try my hardest to carve out time for myself and my hobbies by doing what I love–– as opposed to straining my bandwidth on an endless amount of projects that I am less passionate about.

As much as this is an article dedicated to sharing knowledge, it is also an exercise in vulnerability– very much so in the style of the first piece of advice– and a letter of accountability. As I make these promises to myself, I hope that you will be encouraged to do the same and use this framework in whatever way supports you best. For anyone worried about the next steps in your life, I urge you to tap into your networks because there’s no better advice than the words of those who know you most.


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