To the class of 2026,
As I sit in a sixth floor FML cubicle and overlook University Walk, I can’t help but reminisce on my time as a first-year student. Young and bright-eyed, I had no idea what to expect from my Lehigh experience – as some of you might feel about your own upcoming time at Lehigh.
I’ll make this short and sweet, just like your time at Lehigh will soon feel.
If you’re anything like me, you’ll feel homesick beyond move-in day. You’ll somehow miss fighting with your brother over the bathroom and eating the “mystery meat” your mom made in the Crockpot. You’ll see how the shared loneliness you feel during your first few weeks will mold into friendships that you cherish.
Your first set of exams might be hard. The index cards and study guides that worked so well for you in high school might not cut it for a college exam. This doesn’t mean that you are doomed for academic failure; you’ll hit the library and figure out what works for you, just like so many other students have.
There are times where you’re going to be pulled in a million different directions at once: You’ll have a paper due at midnight, you’ll want to celebrate a friend’s birthday, your hamper will be overflowing and you’ll still want to get a full night’s rest. There is nothing wrong with taking a step back to breathe because you know you’ll always get it done to the best of your ability.
Relationships change throughout your four years in college, and you shouldn’t fret about it. You might meet friends who will be in your life forever and you might lose touch with some old ones too. Regardless, you’ll be thankful for the connections you shared and you’ll know you have a support system when you need it the most.
You’ll watch your friends fall in love and you’ll be there to help pick up the pieces when their hearts are broken. And when your own heart is broken, they’ll be there with chocolate and hugs.
Even though you won’t see her as much, your mom will always be your biggest cheerleader. She’ll be there to cheer you on when you pass the chemistry test you once felt was impossible, she’ll demand you send photos from every special event and she’ll hover over her phone waiting for you to update her after your first job interview.
You’ll learn to listen to your body and to give it what it needs, whether it’s sleep, a walk to clear your mind or a trip to The Cup (because you’ll also learn that ice cream makes everything better).
You might have to turn obstacles into opportunities. My own college experience was altered by the COVID-19 pandemic, and my only option was to make the best of my situation. I encourage you to rise to the challenges life throws at you. If there’s anything we’ve learned from the pandemic, it’s that moments can be taken away without warning. Make the most of every day — even the ones that don’t go as planned.
The Lehigh experience will give you the chance to become well-rounded and bold, if you let it. It will give you the chance to join something you’ve always watched from afar, to form your own community and to have four years of shamelessly doing things for yourself.
People will tell you, “It’ll be over before you know it” around 500 times, but only around the 400th time will you actually understand what they mean.
As I sit in an FML cubicle for one of the last times in my academic career, I think about how if I could do it all again, I would.
Buckle up and enjoy the ride, because it really is over before you know it.