Column: Advice for the future SIU graduate

By Farrah Blaydes, Staff Reporter

With December commencement approaching and upperclassman make the transition to life outside of SIU, they have learned and gathered advice that would be useful to those coming after. 

“I think the most important advice anyone could give an incoming student or future graduate would be don’t give up, you might surprise yourself,” Dalton Sharrow a forestry major and senior graduating this December.

Research all possible majors related to your interest


Despite what people tell you about experimenting with your major, it is really helpful to pick a major and stick with it early on to graduate on track.

“I was not aware of all the majors SIU offered that related to my area of interest, if I had done a little research I would have realized I was more interested in the environment and not necessarily the science of animals,” Sharrow said.

Pace yourself and work diligently

For the future graduate and or incoming freshmen: Two things. Firstly start to get to know your advisors and faculty early. Whether or not you realize it this early in the game, you will need them when it’s closer to graduation,” David Higgs, a senior studying philosophy said.

The second thing is to not burn yourself out. A lot of overachieving freshmen try to join five RSOs while juggling 18 credit hours. Don’t do that.

Instead, find yourself a job on campus that’s related to your field of interest, which will be useful come time to get letters of recommendation, and study at a well managed, balanced pace for your classes. Higgs said.

Appreciate your support system


Your support system is anyone who helps you get through the mental and emotional tolls of the day.

“Appreciate your mom and dad or whoever you have in your corner. You will need them for advice or comfort,” Alyssa Sokolowski, a senior studying social work said.

Ask questions and go to class

This seems like an obvious one to which many don’t listen, but you need to be present in your time at SIU. Go to class not only because you’re paying for it but more importantly, you’re primarily here to learn.

“Professors genuinely do not want you to fail. Go to their office hours go to a tutor or ask a friend. Also, there is a correlation between attendance and the grade a person receives in a class’” Demarco McCart, a senior studying philosophy said.

Start your own business and save

If you don’t have the time to get a job outside of your studies, you should consider alternate forms of income.

It may sound difficult but it could be as easy as selling the stuff you don’t use online. You can make money and not have to work while taking 15 or so credit hours,” Lauren Caples, a senior studying finance said.

Try to determine if college is for you before you enroll

Don’t waste your time if college is not something you’re willing to work for. If you know a better way to get where you need to be in life, save the money and take the alternate route.

“I enrolled at SIU right after high school in the fall of 2016. I majored in therapeutic recreation, I enjoyed it for the most part and had a decent GPA,” Samantha Major, a former SIU student said.

The problem wasn’t the program, but Samantha just couldn’t see herself doing that for the rest of her life, she said.

“I realized I went to college because that’s what everyone else wanted me to do. After I left I was able to pursue what I loved,” Major said.

Be involved

Be active on campus, Sophia Julio, a senior majoring in Forensic Science, Psychology, and Philosophy said. Join those clubs and groups you find interest in.

“You will meet your closest friends here. You will meet your future colleagues. You will meet faculty and students who are willing to help you succeed,” Julio said.

Remember the person next to you in class is also struggling, Julio said. In college it can sometimes feel like the weight of the world is piling on top of you. Reach out for help when you need it. People understand your pain and are willing to help you.

Staff reporter Farrah Blaydes can be reached at or on Twitter at @Farrah_Blaydes.

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