I graduated from The University of Georgia (UGA) a decade ago; it's hard to believe it's been that long. I was actually supposed to finish in the summer of 2005, but ended up doing four and a half years, something that wasn't uncommon when I was attending UGA.
I don't want to go back to Athens and be an undergraduate, of course; that window has now passed. Ten years on, I do, however, recognize how special those years were. Before heading to Athens, I remember hearing that "your college years are your best years" and that I should make the most of that time. I remember thinking that that sounded somewhat trite. And besides, who wants to peak in their early twenties? What young person wants to admit that, on the cusp of receiving an undergraduate degree, one's best days are about to be a thing of the past?
Having said that, the uniqueness of the college experience looks more certain now than ever before. You're meeting new people, making friends, growing up without even realizing it. You're reading and learning -- inside of the classroom and out. Hopefully, you're reading voraciously. I was at best a mediocre student at UGA, though that's where I really developed my love of reading, which remains a passion of mine.
Athens is an incredible college town. It's accessible and walkable, but also cool and funky. A lot of UGA's campus is absolutely beautiful. During my final years in Athens, I lived in a house near downtown, which happed to be right next to North Campus, where someone who studied political science and Spanish would be spending a lot of time. I loved walking to and from class.
Sure, there were a lot of late nights and a few mistakes were made. I joined a fraternity my freshman year. And, while that decision might have had a negative effect on my grades, that was my own fault, not the fraternity's. Besides, I met some really great people.
I'm still in touch with several friends I made through the fraternity; I love these guys. These are people who I've known for my entire adult life. And I was fortunate; I didn't only connect with people in my class, but older and younger folks too. Initially, I looked at a few of the older guys as mentors. Before I knew it, I moved from mentee to mentor, as people graduated and new students arrived. There are so many stories, funny moments, crazy incidents, arguments, and good times packed into this range of friendships. I met a few women too, of course, but those relationships were more sporadic and ephemeral than deep or meaningful; retrospectively, that's something I could have handled differently.
Indeed, there are many things I could have done differently. I could have studied more. I could have gone to class more. I could have participated in more extracurricular activities that didn't involve college football, bars or both. Although you're only that young once and mistakes are bound to be made because there's just no substitute for learning through action and making mistakes sometimes.
I didn't think that much about college when I was in high school. I only applied to two schools and UGA was the only place I was accepted. Obviously, I didn't have the greatest college application strategy. Nevertheless, I had the privilege of attending UGA. And, from 2001 to 2005, that was the perfect place for me.