The Four Greatest Lessons I Learned Throughout My Four Years at Iowa State

by Emily Elveru

Hi, again! I’m Emily, a senior majoring in journalism and an Elk River, Minnesota native. I will soon enter my last semester on this beautiful campus, and it feels as if I just arrived.

Each year speeds by quicker and quicker, but I continue learning new lessons to (hopefully) prepare myself for that quickly approaching ‘real world.’ So, here are the four greatest things I’ve learned over the past four years:

  1. Be independent. College is more than eating chocolate ice cream with peanut butter at midnight (try this) or going to bed every night at 2 a.m. (don’t try this). Take yourself on a nice long walk—or two or three—and ask who you strive to become, what you wish to accomplish and how you want to complete your goals. While going places with friends feels great, join an interesting club or attend a lecture by yourself. Soon, you’ll answer those three questions without doubting your decisions.
  1. Get involved. I’m not one to preach, but if I ever did my anthem would scream, “Join a club!” Seriously. Go to Clubfest (this semester’s is on Wednesday, Jan 21 from 11 a.m.-4 p.m. in the Memorial Union Great Hall) or peruse Iowa State’s ever-growing list of student organizations. Find a few clubs you’re interested in—they can relate to your major, focus on something you’re interested in or both—and begin attending the meetings. If you don’t like it, quit going. If you do like it and want more responsibility, take on a leadership role. Any experience is good experience in my book.

    I immersed myself in Trend Magazine, a completely student-run fashion magazine exclusive to Iowa State. Check out the fall issue (on stands now!) if you get the chance:

Elveru trend


  1. Ask why and share your viewpoint. Ever heard the phrase, “Be open-minded but not so open-minded that your brains fall out?” Well, fold it up and keep it in your back pocket. You’ll hear a lot of opinions at college, and while it’s important to show respect toward everyone’s viewpoints, know it’s also important to question those views if you don’t understand them. Attending a university gives us the great opportunity to learn inside and outside of the classroom; we’re surrounded by knowledge. So, use that knowledge to ask ‘why,’ create your own strong argument with justifiable facts and prepare to answer others’ ‘why’ questions. To quote my mom, having no opinion is “just being lazy.(Lesson 3a: Moms are still always right.)
  1. Find time for fun and friends. Tests, papers, club meetings, internships, jobs, applications, interviews. With so many stressors running in and out of our daily routines, it might seem impossible to devote any time toward a social life. However, spending time with friends and attending fun activities keep a college student sane. Devote one night a week to relaxation, and recruit your friends to do the same. Whether lounging on the couch with Netflix and a bowl of popcorn or attending a concert at the M-Shop, I guarantee you’ll never regret the memories made with college friends. I know I’ll never forget my night with Spongebob and Squidward or the time we spent crafting to perfect these looks:


Elveru halloween


I certainly haven’t mastered all of these lessons, but I understand their importance. As you continue your adventure at Iowa State, think about your own growth since stepping on campus freshman year and what you’d like to accomplish with the journey you have left.


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