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Four Years at the Mount

Freshman year

How college has changed me

Kyle Ott

(5/2012) Itís hard to believe but the adventure of college is almost over. The snow and cold which held Mount St. Maryís in its icy grip has all but faded from our memories, and even now the mild touch of spring is slowly giving way to the humid grasp of summer. For many of us, the year marks an end to classesí work, and the amazing social life that weíve all had here on campus, and for some itís an end to school for good. Regardless of how the setting of an era is viewed one thing is certain and that is that things will be changing for all of us: and whether weíll be moving into the workforce, grad school, or back on campus next year, how we let those changes alter us will play a fundamental role in our lives. My fellow authors of the "Four Years" section will write about the changes that have occurred here on campus. However, as a member of the freshman class, and one with a fairly limited perspective on how our college has changed, Iíll be reflecting on something a little more esoteric: the changes that college life has had on me. When I think back on the person I was four years ago in high school, and the man I am now, Iím shocked by how much Iíve changed. Thereís so much that Iíd like to say to the me from back then and lessons that I want to share. And so in an effort to share what limited wisdom I possess Iíve listed the core lessons of college and the changes theyíve had on me. (And in case time travel ever does become possible, hopefully this list will find its way back to that shy, starry eyed Freshman.)

3. Be like the Water

Bruce Lee couldnít have been more right when he said to literally "be like the water." While Mr. Lee was referring to the fluid style of kung-fu that required constant skill, motion, and precision, his words of sage advice can be easily applied to the social karate of college life. One of the things thatís changed about me is that Iíve become like water when it comes to my friends. On any given day I can be found hanging out with my hall-mates in third floor pang (Third Pang, as its lovingly called) playing call of duty, or watching movie, or I could be with the choir practicing for songs, or chilling in the Office of Social Justice. The group of people Iím with fluctuates in a way that would not have happened in high school. In the past I would have been waaaay too scared about constantly moving about, but here at Mount, the fact that I share a common bond with so many people has allowed me to as Henry David Thoreau said: "suck the marrow out of life".

2. Take the plunge.

College is inherently scary. You pack everything you own in a van, are shoved in a room with a person youíve barely known away from all that was familiar and stable, and told to adapt. And you know something? It completely rocks. Never be afraid to live college like you could drop dead at any second, because itís a place of unbridled opportunity, and all thatís required is for you to reach out and grab it. In college I got a chance to travel to Canada with the Mount Chorale, perform on stage as Don Juan in Delaplaine theater, and occasionally write a little column in the Emmitsburg News Journal. Yes, there were times that I was scared of failure or embarrassment, but I overcame that fear and my life is better for that one instant of bravery, then a whole lifetime of excuses.

1. Work.

Seriously, this one is self-explanatory but it is a lesson that desperately needs to be addressed, readdressed, and then covered once again just so were clear. The experience here at Mount has been fun, exhilarating, and enlightening. However, it has also been hard, requiring an equal amount of work to be put in for the fun that you get out. In high school I would procrastinate for days on end, whip out a simple assignment in no time at all and get a good grade. If I tried that here at Mount I would get laughed at. If thereís something to be learned from school it is that when something needs to be done: do it. Do it with all your might, talent, and intelligence. Work, and rework until it fits not only the parameters of the assignment but the image of perfection that you hold in your mind. A running joke among the people that know me is that Iím married to the library and while funny its partially true. When I sit at my desk on the second floor to work I donít leave until Iím completely satisfied that what Iíve produced is a quality piece of work. Thatís one thing Iíve learned from college: work hard and donít just do it for the grade, do it because you canít stand giving something less than your best.

So there you have it, the changes that college has had on me turned into lessons straight from the trenches. Hopefully youíll find this list useful to your own college journey, and who knows? Maybe the things Iíve learned will set you on your own path to self-discovery. I leave you with a quote from the Father of Philosophy, Socrates "the unexamined life is not worth living." Iím Kyle Ott, wonít you read for a while?

Read other articles by Kyle Ott