The daughter of a friend of mine recently did not get into the sorority she wanted. I thought about what advice I would offer a disappointed young person.

You choose your college destiny. You have one life and one college experience. There are plenty of opportunities to get involved and use your energy and enthusiasm in productive ways. Maybe for the first time, your avocations are up to you and not your parents. Make it count. You are a valued commodity and your energy, youthful enthusiasm and excitement are very important to organizations. Your college years go by very quick like a rushing river.

Carefully choose the organizations you join. In college, your identity is often attached to the organization you become affiliated. For good or bad, their reputation becomes attached to your name. Of course people’s interests change over time. One day you are dedicated to saving the bald eagles and the next, free range chickens is your passion. One day you are marching for the Young Republicans Club and the next, the Liberal Progressives Group is the t-shirt you wear. Changing affinities is all part of college, the more self aware you become. Regardless of the group, be aware of their activities, who their leaders are and recognize their actions (protests, riots, school vandalism, angry op-eds in the school newspaper) reflect on your own name, reputation and even future employment.

Take rejection as direction. Like in dating, some organizations are a fit while others are not. In the future, some employers are a fit while others are not. Social groups are no different. It is no reflection on you as a person or on your worth as an individual. If you get rejected from a favorite organization during Greek Rush, don’t let tired kids meeting at three in the morning drinking Monster energy drinks to stay awake determine your future worth. The inexperienced, barely awake sorority/fraternity kids making split second decisions during late night rush meetings often lack the wisdom and discernment to determine your value to their organization. It is their loss and don’t look back. Find your tribe and pour yourself into them. Life is far too short to allow the rejection of one organization to define you. The insane thing is if you or someone else would go through rush in another month or six months, these same kids would pick a whole different group of pledges. The same can be said of employers later in life. This process truly prepares you for life. Life is all about overcoming rejection and getting back up again and again and again.

Be fully present in your current organization. Give it your all and fully invest in these friends. Regardless of what group or club you are in, be PRESENT! The most important thing I took away from college (other than a diploma) was the depth and quality of friendships I gained. Looking back, I don’t remember who was in what fraternity or sorority, I only remember my friendships and depth of experiences and time we spent together.

Keep your eyes on the prize. Why are you in college and what do you seek to accomplish? You are there to get a degree so don’t forget about class deadlines, majors, and academic advisers. Create the college experience you want and then build upon it. Identify your clear SMART (specific, measurable, attainable, realistic and timely) goals and then backdate how you are going to accomplish it. Then go meet your goals and let NO ONE stop you.

Life is quick, often turbulent and moves at warp speed. College years can be some of the most treasured and memorable times of your life. Seize the day and enjoy this precious opportunity.

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