Making the most of college



Opinion columnist Cristian Ortiz urges students to take advantage of their time at UNI.

CRISTIAN ORTIZ, Opinion Columnist

Let me start off by saying this: Life is short, time is fleeting and the moments go by way too fast.

We are all on a journey here at UNI. Each day is a different adventure, and every breath is a second chance to do something magical and extraordinary. I beg of you this one thing — don’t waste it.

My friends like to make fun of me because I often bring up how it’s hard to wrap my mind around the fact that we’ve already graduated high school. I’m now a senior in college. You can probably see the humor in that.

When I first packed up my belongings to make the big move from San Antonio, Texas to Cedar Falls, Iowa to begin my college career, I was feeling all sorts of emotions. I was ecstatic, nervous, terrified, happy and so much more. I would soon begin the adventure that would define the man I’d become for the rest of my life.

Before I knew it, I was already going back home for summer. Then sophomore and junior year came and went, too.

Now here I am, a 21-year-old starting to realize that there are some things that I regret. Still, even though there are some things that I wish I could change, I believe that everything happens for a reason and according to a plan.

Slowly but surely, I’ve come to appreciate all those things…The good, the bad and the ugly. I’ve learned from my mistakes and have moved on, learning and growing because of them.

No, I’m not regretting all of those bad things happening. What I am regretting are the chances I didn’t take, the opportunities I didn’t chase and the passions that I didn’t pursue. 

As I’m thinking of these things, I remember the “almosts.” I “almost” studied harder for that test. I “almost” went to that one event with my friends. I “almost” started that conversation. The “almosts” can sometimes feel infinite.

But there’s good news: It’s not over. Wherever you are in your college career, whether that be a freshman, a senior or anything in between, you still have moments to grasp and dreams to chase.

My first two years at UNI weren’t spent as wisely as I’d like. I didn’t join many organizations, and I barely went to any events. I barely got to know my R.A.’s and my neighbors in the dorms.

That’s something I definitely regret. Those are people who could’ve become great friends and possibly even professional contacts for the future.

Before I even realized it, I started to learn that college, much like the rest of life, goes by faster than I ever imagined it would. That’s why this year, I’ve decided to go all in. I looked for clubs that fit my interests. I took up a leadership position in an organization I’m in. Now I’m proud to say that it’s hard to find time in my busy schedule.

Whether your interests are in film-making, music, video games, sports, books or anything else, UNI most likely has it. Try a club out — if it’s not right for you, you don’t have to stay in it!

Also, guess what? The library is actually amazing! Surprising, right? I want to be a screenwriter, so I decided one day after class to go see if the library has anything on screenwriting or filmmaking in general.

I was in absolute awe when I found all of the resources that the library had to offer. They had not only a vast selection of films, but they also have great books on the topic and everything in between. So, do yourself a favor and go to the library sometime. I bet that it’ll have something that will catch your eye.

Another thing I’m learning: People want to talk to you! College is about growth, and growth can come in many ways: growth in your education, skillset and something that’s really fun — growth in relationships. So, if you see someone by themselves, smile, spark a conversation and see where it’ll take you.

Here’s the thing: I’m not saying there’s one way to live life. No, quite the contrary. Everyone has a different view on life and how it should be lived. I have my view; you have yours. What I’m saying is that life is a beautiful thing, and it should be lived to the fullest.

Whatever interests you and brings you joy, do it. Chase after it. Life is too short for us to not do what we dream of and aspire for. That’s something I’m learning, and I’ve been so much happier ever since I actually started living like I believed it. That’s what college is all about.