Dear college Anita,
Soak up every second you are on the University of Rhode Island's Kingston campus. It seems far now, but in a short five years, you will have earned your Bachelor's degree and be wishing you could go back and do it all over again. Your time at URI will go by quicker than you can say Rhody, Rhody, Rhody.
The terrible experience you had at the Community College of Rhode Island will soon be a distant memory because you will fall in love with URI and forget about any other college institution you went to.
Your first year at URI will be exciting, nerve-racking, and hard. Really hard. You don't realize you want to become a journalist until your second year in college so all of those B.S general ed classes will bore you to death. Soon enough, you will have decided the journalism program is right for you and you will soon be taking classes that you actually enjoy.
Stay focused. Going to the library sucks but it will be worth it when you walk across the stage and get your diploma. Be sure to make friends within your college because they will come in handy as study buddies during those long hours in the 24-hour room. Build relationships with your professors too, Anita. This will be crucial because a relationship you built with one of your journalism professors will help you land a job as a broadcast journalist and jump-start your career that you will love just two years after you graduate.
As for student loans, PAY THE INTEREST. Once you graduate in 2013 with five years of student debt behind you, you're going to owe a mere $32,000. I know, I know, working as a waitress on the weekends doesn't pay you much, especially since you can't work during the week. The interest isn't much. A company like Earnest is another option to help out with refinancing your loan if you need a little help down the road. Here's a helpful tip: party with caution. Going to Bonvue every Thursday isn't worth it. You're going to regret spending all of the small amounts of money you have on overpriced, water-downed drinks. Oh, do not, I repeat, do not buy Burnett's Vodka just because it is cheap. The hangover isn't worth saving a few bucks.
Speaking of money, you will be broke. I'm taking about ordering white rice from New Dragon for $3 and adding packets of soy sauce for dinner, broke. Left overs from mom's house is worth getting. Freeze it! It will come in handy when you have nothing left in your fridge. And stop spending your student refund check on clothes from Forever 21. You won't wear them for more than a year because your style will change drastically.
Living off campus will be a blast. Whenever you can, go to the beach and do your homework there. And you won't be alone. Basically every URI student will go to the beach to get some reading done or play hookie and spend that beautiful 80 degree day on Narragansett beach. Yes, the winters are brutal in Southern Rhode Island but living less than a mile from the beach will be one of the best college decisions of your life. Your scenic commute to campus along the mile long coast will be well worth getting caught in traffic to get there in time for class.
Parking is a bitch on campus. Now this will sound very creepy but DO IT. While students are walking to their cars, roll down your window and kindly say "Hey! I can take you to your car. I know how much the walk with heavy books can be." It works every time. Fighting off drivers for a parking spot can get tricky, but you have to play the game the best you can and this is the best method to do so. You won't pick up any serial killers. Trust me, I'm still alive.
Never doubt yourself. The hours of studying, the ridiculous amount of papers you'll write and miles and miles you will walk around campus for class will be worth it. Work hard and you will soon have a blooming career in something you love doing. Pretty soon, the journalism college will ask you to speak to students in your shoes right now about your success as a news reporter in the Rhode Island press corp, specifically on Nov. 15, 2016.
College is a crazy adventure. You be sculpted into a better and smarter you. Follow your heart and trust your gut, and above all, chase your dreams. You will visit URI to cover stories as a working journalist and envy students living the life you are living now. Appreciate every second.
Wishing you the best of luck on your college journey.
An older, wiser, more mature, college graduate you.