Meet Ryan Bolotte from New Orleans, LA. Ryan attended Ponchatoula High School and has recently graduated from LSU with a degree in Biological Sciences. Throughout his collegiate career, he was involved with LSU Ambassadors, STRIPES, and Supplemental Instruction. This summer Ryan will be serving as a second year Parent Orientation Leader. In the fall Ryan will begin medical school at LSU in New Orleans.
Four years ago, I was fresh out of high school with my diploma in hand and ready to take on the next big step in my life: college. Now, four years later, I am fresh out of college with my second diploma in hand and ready to take on an even bigger step in my life: medical school. When I look back on my time at LSU, it’s remarkable to think about all of the obstacles and challenges that I was forced to overcome, but it’s even more incredible to think about how rewarding it was to make it through those four years and how much I learned about myself along the way. There were a few major lessons that I learned while at LSU that proved to be vital in helping both my family and I succeed at this whole college “thing”, and I want to share those with you!
One of the first things that parents and families are going to be concerned about is staying in touch with their student. It’s a very valid issue, especially for students coming a long way from home to Baton Rouge. However, it’s not difficult to make something work these days with all of the technology that we have. Whether it’s a weekly phone call, a group text with the parents, or a daily text from your student, I’m sure there is something that you can agree upon that will work. The only thing you have to do is make sure to communicate beforehand with your student what is the best option for both of you and be open to changes in case your “communication plan” needs to be tweaked or altered throughout the years.
This is probably the hardest lesson I had to learn, but it is possibly the most important one for you and your student: it is okay to make mistakes (I promise). This goes for families and students alike. As a perfectionist, this was not easy for me to comprehend, but I soon realized that not everything is going to go as planned. From move-in day to the first exam to post-graduation plans, I had to learn very soon that it was fine to stray away from the original plan sometimes. I learned a whole lot more when things weren’t going right during college, and I can take those lessons that I learned about positivity and adaptability with me into the future.
It is going to be hard at times to not compare what your student is doing to his or her siblings, friends, or your friends’ children. There were many times when I found myself comparing my grades, extracurricular activities, or jobs to what other people were doing, and I know my mother did the same thing with her friends and their children. Two LSU students could do exactly the same things (have the same major, take the same classes, do the same extracurricular activities, etc.), and their college experiences will still be different due to the simple fact that every student is different. I found that comparing my experience to other students’ experiences only got me caught up in thoughts that were not going to help me achieve my goal of getting into medical school. I needed to focus on my classes, my obligations, and my medical school preparation and stay away from comparing my unique journey to everyone else’s.
After spending four years here, I can guarantee that LSU offers everything that a student could ask for. The campus is beautiful and “home-like”; the organizations and clubs create smaller communities within the university; the student body is filled with passion and pride; the departments and university staff will ease your student’s time here; the faculty will provide your student with an excellent education; and the other students at this university are one of a kind. This is the best deal that any college student could ask for. Everything is out there, and it is upon you and your student to maximize the resources that LSU has to offer.
The last thing that I will leave you with is something that my mother told me before I came to college: constantly encourage your student and yourself to do the best you can. You cannot do any better than your best, and I always had to remind myself of that. If I gave something my all, and it didn’t turn out the way I wanted it to, I could be satisfied knowing that I gave it everything I possibly could. That is the attitude that you and your student have to maintain – do your best as a family member and have your student do his or her best, and things will fall into place from there.