Posted by: Meredith Aska McBride | September 8, 2009

The beginning of the end

Tomorrow is the first day of my last year of college.  I was looking through old photos the other day and ran across a bunch I had taken during the summer after I graduated high school–it seems simultaneously yesterday and forever ago.

I’ve been thinking a lot lately about how I’ve changed since then, and how I’ve stayed the same; what I hoped to get out of college and what I’ve actually gotten out of it.  Penn has been a completely different experience than I thought it would be, and for the better.  The me that’s in the summer 2006 photos wouldn’t have been able to predict where I am today in terms of both my personal and intellectual development.

And that’s also a good thing.  I’ve made good and bad decisions in college, but I would have to say that one of my best has been to remain open to the possibility of change, to remain open to new ideas and to see where things lead me even if I’ve never before considered them.  I had barely heard of ethnomusicology when I was a pre-med freshman; now I’m applying to doctoral programs in it.

I have lots of things left on my checklist before I finish college.  There are people I want to get to know better, classes I want to take, places I want to visit and things I just haven’t gotten around to doing in my three years here so far.  High up on that list is getting to know freshmen and letting them know that despite how driven their peers may seem, despite what they thought their life goals were in the fall of their senior year in high school, that it’s okay not to know where they’ll be in ten years, and that they should follow their passions while they still have relative freedom to do so.  There’s plenty of time for practicality later.



  1. I like the idea of mentoring first year students and helping them realize it might be prudent to simply trust G-d to be in control of the big picture..yes? Howard Thurman, one time chaplain in Boston, said we can’t answer the “What shall I do with my life?” question until we answer “Who am I?” Just being open to following our passions as you suggest is a wonderful way of doing just that!

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