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It keeps getting better

Maureen Reynolds | Saturday, August 20, 2005


You did the work, took the tests, filled out the application, received your acceptance, filled out all the rest of the paperwork and you’ve finally arrived at college.

But there was more to it than that, wasn’t there? More than just tests and paperwork? Because this isn’t just any school – this is Notre Dame.

If you’re anything like me, you’ve been planning on attending this particular university since you could form coherent thoughts, so you did what you needed to do to make it happen. There were extracurricular activities, volunteer positions and hours of studying that went into creating that perfect application.

With all that work, it seems amazing that we even had time to enjoy high school, let alone make friends. But ever present during the past four years was that little voice in the back of your head that said, “It’s not all about getting good grades and doing everything right. You’ve got to enjoy what you have while it’s here, too.” And so, somehow we managed to make thousands of those precious high school memories we’ll never forget with people we’ll always remember – even if we lose touch – while still doing all that other “important” stuff.

Don’t lose that voice.

A big part of the shock of coming to Notre Dame was realizing that at some point, I should probably have a plan. You know: a major, a possible job or a purpose in life, perhaps? Having only four years to figure out what I want to do with the rest of my life (at least, that’s how it seems sometimes) can get pretty daunting. It’s hard to remember that I’m not only here for a diploma – I want the whole experience.

I want to learn the legends and traditions that make this school famous. I want to have friends with whom I can stay up all night and share everything. I want to walk across campus on a sunny, quiet fall morning and know in my heart that I’m home, not just at school.

For the most part, I’ve been able to succeed at those goals. You see, there’s a reason I counted the days until I could come back here, and it’s not because I’m excited to have homework. It’s because for the past three years, that little voice in my head hasn’t let me forget that it’s not all about good grades, the Dean’s list or prospective jobs and graduate schools.

Now, I know that orientation weekend is just full of people who want to offer their advice, which invariably turns out to be the same advice someone offered you an hour ago. (In fact, I think I counted how many people told me to “make friends with professors,” during my orientation, and it was upwards of 10.) For that reason, I didn’t want to stuff this column with platitudes about “making every moment count,” “taking time to smell the roses,” or (God forbid) “getting to know your professors.”

But then I realized that one thing is worth hearing hundreds of times, even if you don’t realize it yet: college is more than school. So don’t lose that voice of reason that will remind you that it’s not the classes you’ll recall 20 years from now, it’s the people and the feeling of family.

There is one thing wrong with college, though: it keeps getting better. And that’s going to make it very hard to leave come May. But I should have expected that, right? After all, this isn’t just any school – it’s Notre Dame.


Maureen Reynolds is a senior accounting and political science major from outside Chicago who plans on attending law school after graduating in May, provided she survives the LSAT. She feels lucky to attend Notre Dame with her sister and four (yes, four) cousins. When she’s not spending her nights in The Observer’s basement office, she enjoys ordering make-your-own T-shirts with her 4B girls, who all plan on making their senior year the best yet. Contact her at mreynold@nd.edu

The views expressed in this column are those of the author and not necessarily those of The Observer.