Less than four months until our seniors will leave Rollins, and with them they will take their experiences of how to handle life on campus. That’s why five seniors are going to tell you how they grew at Rollins, how they overcame challenges and what they would do differently if they could. “I got used to hearing my own voice and to be listened to and respected enough to speak out loud,” Lisa Loft 13’ says. She became more self-confident due to the discussion-based classrooms at Rollins. Delfi Cuglievan 13’ says, she became more responsible at Rollins because she had to divide her time wisely between sports and academics to succeed in both of them.
For Drew Doty 13’ going abroad was definitely the experience that affected him the most. Hien Nguyen 13’ and Elin Saga 13’ both developed the most through meeting different people from foreign countries with different experiences and perspectives at Rollins. “It opens your eyes and you learn about different cultures and how people do things differently than you would normally do at home,” Saga says. “Before, I took many things for granted.”
To Nguyen, the international environment was also an inspiration to travel the world because he got curious and wished to visit many new places. “Now I have a lot of friends in a lot of places to visit, so I’m busy for the next couple of years,“ he says and laughs.
But in the very beginning of their Rollins life, those five seniors faced a couple of challenges. Time management seemed to be the most difficult challenge for them. “There are a lot of distractions around you and you have to focus on whatever you are doing because you have to fulfill your priorities,” Cuglievan says. For Doty, besides studying and skiing, good grades for a scholarship had to be considered in his time management as well.
”Managing social life and not letting social life take over academics is most difficult,“ Loft says. “What I recommend is, make sure to set priorities and make sure that you understand what you are here for,” Nguyen says, “And the most important lesson I learned is: There will always be another party. Don’t feel as if tonight’s party is the last party.”
International students face the additional challenge of suddenly not being able to live their life as they used to do in their home countries. “It was hard to be always stationary and stuck on campus,“ Saga says. She didn’t have a car here and misses her life in Sweden where she can go to any places she wants to. “Twenty-one being the drinking age limit was strange and different and living with another person in freshman year was hard for finding time for myself and being independent,” Saga adds.
But those seniors learned how to overcome their challenges. “Getting really good at getting things done right away helped me a lot,” Loft says. “Doing it 100% that you don’t have to go back and change it and think about it again.“ Cuglievan notes, “Hanging out with people who have the same motivations,” She especially associated herself with international students who were involved in sports. “Prioritize things when they are due and keep working chronologically,” Doty recommends. “And keep breathing.”
Saga asked her professors for help, went to the writing center, and adapted to the social life on campus. “I got used to it and learned to appreciate my friends around me and I found small ways to find some personal time such as to work-out or go for a run.“ Students around Rollins became her family and she got influenced a lot by them.
Although they had a great time at Rollins, those seniors would do a couple of things differently if they could. “Do more,” Nguyen says. “Just try to do more and definitely say yes to everything, socially and academically. Don’t be unfocused and don’t take classes just because they are easy. Get the most of it and don’t be intimated by harder classes and hard professors because those are the classes you will learn the most.” Doty would have definitely tried to go one year abroad instead of just a semester. If Saga could do something differently, she would get more involved in campus early on. “I didn’t even realize how important it is to get involved for résumés but now that I’m thinking of applying for jobs and interviews I realized,” she says. “I feel I missed out on a lot of things that I could have participated in my freshman and my sophomore year because I wasn’t involved.”
Cuglievan and Loft, both environmental studies majors, realized how important business is and would take it as a minor or double major. “Just to make sure to get environmental studies spread in the whole world, Cuglievan says. “Now they are very philosophical and not practical enough”. “To get more used to doing powerpoints and presenting in front of people and to work in a team,” Loft explains the reasons behind why business would have been crucial to backing her major.
In starting a new period of life, the seniors will miss their friends the most out of all aspects of Rollins life. Nguyen will miss the people at Rollins and the fact that everyone is a whole community and lives together. “I feel like when I came here I started a new life with a second family and it’s really hard to think that everyone will go to different places around the world”, Saga says. “And here it is easier to get to know people than it is in the rest of your life.”
Doty and Cuglievan, both on the water skiing team, will miss the location of Rollins. “I will miss the fact that the lake is in front of the campus and I can ski whenever I want,“ Cuglievan says. Doty won’t get to ski after leaving Rollins and will miss that a lot too and to be pushed to learn. “Rollins gave me a goal every day and I knew that I have to do really well in classes and really good in tennis so I had a focus,” Loft says, “So I think when I graduate I have to refine my focus and refine that routine.”
While they are still around, ask senior friends for advice and strategies of how to balance social and academic life! It won’t be long before you too are a senior.