Words of wisdom to incoming college freshmen

First off, I want to take a second to introduce myself and how I found myself working at The Record.

My name is Nicholas and I am one of three new reporters joining The Record’s newsroom in 2015. I was born on California soil, down south in Laguna Beach and my younger brother was born five years up over in Modesto. While I do say I grew up in Portland, Oregon for all of my schooling and college, I frequently visited Lodi and Stockton on vacations and holidays as family on my father’s side has resided in San Joaquin County for over 45 years.

After getting my degree in Journalism from the University of Oregon (Go Ducks!), I moved with my family 2,000 miles across the country to Nashville, Tennessee of all places. For an entire year, I worked as a part-time reporter for an online media company based in Franklin, a.k.a “The Best Small Town in America.” A majority of my work was spent typing up news releases from home, and going to film high school football games.

Looking for something more meaningful and full-time, I replied to a posting at The Record for a reporter job. Fast forward to late April, and I sat down at my first desk, at my first ever newsroom position and it’s already been a month.

It’s crazy how fast time goes by.

As the new education reporter, I am taking over the position from Elizabeth Roberts, who has moved back to the copy editor desk, and then former reporter Keith Reed (Although I do claim Reed’s old office number, you now will reach me instead, and I apologize if I know nothing about a story he wrote about years ago). They sure left big shoes to fill covering education in San Joaquin County and I will work my tail off to cover what needs to be covered.

One of my first assignments here was to gather information regarding 26+ high schools in the area for our Grad Boxes. I would call offices numerous times asking details for the date, time and location of the ceremony, names of the valedictorian and such.

Doing this, it reminded me about my high school graduation from Southridge High in Beaverton, Oregon. I am the Class of 2008, and reading that to me sounds incredibly ancient. Back then I sort-of had an idea of what I wanted to do and where to go, but I took the community college road first that following September. Three years later, I worked hard enough to transfer two hours south to the beautiful college campus in Eugene. On a rain soaked afternoon in June 2014, I was handed my college diploma.

I look back on the first night I spent  in the dorms and I will admit it was rough.

Really rough.

I had grown so accustomed to living at home while taking classes during the day, sleeping in my own bed in a quiet room and just being in my house with familiar surroundings.

The sudden change of being dropped off in really, unknown territory, with hundreds of people you don’t know, was frightening. Now I had to fend for myself to get food, had to deal with a roommate and living in a loud dorm hall.

I know some of you who are packing up and heading to college nearby might be ready for the change and the experience, and some of you may not be so eager and will need time.

Take it from me. Don’t fret.

Every new experience is pretty scary in the beginning.

Give yourself a good solid month and you’ll be in a routine. You will meet some of the greatest (and not so greatest) people in the world that otherwise, you will have never had the chance to meet. All of my closest friends now are those I have met in college and I can’t think of life without them.

Sure you will miss your hometown friends, your parents, siblings, pets and things that make you feel safe and comfortable. But in time, you will be looking forward to coming back to campus and living on your own, making your own decisions. Want to have ice cream for lunch? Knock yourself out. Just one more game of Madden before reading those 50 pages of economics? Your mom isn’t around anymore to say no.

The freedom you will soon discover is something else. You finally feel like an adult, but be smart about it. This is still school. It’s a whole new level. College is a place now that can really weed out those who want a college degree and those who don’t.

Just remember to when you first sit down at your seat on the morning of your first college class and take it in. Take it in. Look around and tell yourself, you’re in college! You made it this far. Now it’s up to you to make up how you’ll use your time there.

Enjoy yourself. Congratulations to all of San Joaquin’s graduating Class of 2015.

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