Everyone is constantly changing throughout their entire lives, but it’s certainly safe to say that a lot of growth happens in college. College is when people mature into adulthood (most of the time), and it’s a highly cognitive process. Here are some of the top life lessons that seniors have learned, presented for your edification!

1) Love yourself. Senior Katya Rivers said she learned to “love [her]self and not balance on the opinions of others.” Once she did, she “started to invest time in the things that interested [her] and the things [she] actually cared about, because [she] no longer cared about the constrained opinions of everyone around [her].”  Loving oneself can also influence relations with others. Senior Jessica Wingert said the biggest change she has seen in herself in college is “a broadening of thought and self that has given me confidence to welcome and explore others’ ideas, to share and stand behind my own, and to experience the world with open, questioning eyes rather than blind belief or judgment.” Loving oneself even applies to appearance, according to senior Shamus Jarvis. He said “I [now have] a gigantic beard. Although I wasn’t sure of it at first, it has really grown on me.” Senior Andrew Lambert-Cole emphasized the importance of valuing your own time and effort: “Do not make excuses to skip classes, homework, sports, or work. Know that your original thoughts and original work are worthy. You are worthy.”

2) Be responsible. Post-graduate Aean McMullin said, “I’d have to say that the biggest change I [saw in myself during college] is a desire to hold myself accountable. Before, I was happy to get away with something I did wrong, but now I would much rather admit to the wrong. I am much happier to learn from my mistakes as opposed to thinking that they are/were fine.” Senior Shamus Jarvis was inspired by Principia’s motto, “As the sowing, the reaping.” Jarvis said “There is a direct correlation between the amount of effort, care, and work that a student dedicates to his or her college career, and the success that such efforts will yield following graduation.” Senior Sarah Litwiller also learned self-discipline in college. She said “My work ethic has significantly improved [while at Principia]. Whether it be an academic, athletic, or spiritual task, I do my best to give an honest effort and to put my best foot forward, unlike my ‘bare minimum’ attitude in high school.” She also advised people looking to be more disciplined to “bring everything back to God; put God first, and everything will follow in a harmonious unfolding…never give in to thoughts of criticism and doubt.”

3) Experiment, but be proactive about it. McMullin said, “Don’t think of college as another four years before you have to start really working, think of it as the perfect opportunity to find out what you enjoy working on… Make a choice and run with it. It doesn’t matter if it isn’t the right one or the best one at the time, you’ll more than likely find that out later.” According to senior Savanna Sprague, it’s not just academics that you can try new things in. She said, “Don’t pick one group of friends to be with! Enjoy many different people! Don’t be afraid to hang out with yourself sometimes. And don’t be scared of joining a group or club that your friends aren’t a part of…it will lead to many new amazing friends that you could’ve missed out on meeting.” The end result is amazing personal growth, according to senior Andrew Lambert-Cole. He said, “[College is] like a mini-laboratory in which you can become that man or woman you want to be while supported by people who care for you. Don’t throw yourself into the world and then lament that it’s too difficult. Break in the shoes before you start on your journey.” Rivers highlighted the value of uncertainty. She said, “Do not plan your life out; let it unfold on its own and make the best of what you got. The mystery of not knowing is the greatest gift you can receive, you just don’t know it yet. So try to enjoy the thrill of the surprises life throws at you, even if they [aren’t great]. All bad is just good, disguised. It’s never about the situation, but all about the perspective.”

4) Take advantage of everything that’s available in college. (Seniors also appreciated what Principia has to offer specifically for Christian Scientists.) Jarvis said, “College, especially Principia College, encourages students to assume a great deal of responsibility for their own education… It has been a privilege to study under professors who are willing to take the time to work with me outside of regular class periods on an individual basis in order to help me develop my understanding of any given subject. Sprague said, “At [Principia] I’ve been able to contribute to many groups and committees… If I were somewhere else I don’t think I [would have] seen this many unique opportunities to become a leader and be involved. Wingert was very appreciative of the abroad program specifically. She said, “Thank goodness I [went on the Prague abroad]! It was the most rewarding semester of my college experience and I made close friends and memories I would not have now had I not gone abroad.” She added, “I have found my voice studying at Prin, and though it is still growing, it is a great deal stronger than the one I had before.”

5) Remember that the world is full of opportunity. Litwiller believes that students “can realize that [their] individuality and worth is not limited to [their] daily tasks, but the potential [they] have to contribute to a greater cause and community.” Sprague added, “College is the place where we create what we want to be. We can find passions and interests, things that we love. We make it our own and run with it!” Lambert-Cole said, “I want to let you know that you all should dare greatly. Remember that it is the man in the arena who is worthy of note. Do something that scares you. Meet new people. Be kind, be respectful, and love unconditionally. The class, campus, country, and world are made better by people who actively contribute to it. Fear not, do right.”