5 Tips for The Class of 2021

As the class of 2021 moves on to campus and begins their first few weeks of college coursework, students involved in Miracle Network Dance Marathon programs at colleges and universities across the U.S. wanted to share some advice and lessons learned from their first few years in college.

1. First, be yourself.

College is the time for you to be able to be authentic, grow and learn, and develop into an even more awesome person. 

“Many people go to college to get a degree, but the true value in a college education is what you learn outside of the classroom. Learn how to live and love and learn how to use your passions and your interests to benefit yourself and others. If you can find that calling, you will not only have an amazing time in college but also throughout your entire lifetime.” – Joey Whelihan, University of Florida


“My advice is not to be ‘too cool’ for your own good. Step outside the box and find what you TRULY enjoy and want to do, not because it is something that seems to be trending on campus or in the realm of popularity.” – Zach Price, University of Southern Indiana


“College is the new chapter of your life, meaning it’s a complete new slate. Do not go to college with the same mentality as you did in high school. Popularity in high school does not mean anything when you go to a new school. However, bring your knowledge and strength that you have and developed from high school and continue to build off of it!” – Stephen Lin, St. Norbert College


2. But be sure to branch out.

Meet new people. Get uncomfortable. Challenge yourself and broaden your perspectives. 

“College is an incredible chance to step outside your comfort zone. Try branching out and meeting and engagingwith people you wouldn’t normally spend time with, they may just surprise you!” – Nevin McRay, Kennesaw State University


“Don’t be afraid to be the one who stands out from the crowd. College is what you make it. Don’t stay in your dorm watching Netflix all day. Go outside. Play frisbee. Learn to have fun and be surrounded by the beautiful humans around you.” – Bianca Humbarger, Ball State University


“Do everything and anything that you can. Really take the opportunity to branch out, have new experiences, and find your passions. The more that you do, the higher chance that you will find your purpose and passion, allowing you to cater your college career to that.” – Joey Whelihan, University of Florida


“Keep your door to your dorm room open and introduce yourself to the neighbors. Take leaps of faith and go to events on campus alone, it’s the perfect place to make new friends!” – Jess Marrello, University of New Mexico


3. Get involved on campus.

Make friends and discover what you’re most passionate about while developing leadership skills. 

“I would say to not be afraid to try something new! Whether it’s dance marathon, intramurals, theater, or whatever your University offers, don’t be afraid to step outside your comfort zone–you may just find exactly what you didn’t even know you were looking for.” – Luke Campbell, University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign


“When looking to get involved, it can be pretty overwhelming (especially if you go to a big university). Make sure to go out to student organization fairs, make a list of those organizations that interest you, and ask yourself what your top 2/3 are!” – Erika Ong, University of Texas at Austin


“Always find time to help people! Whether that is simply smiling at someone on campus to create a positive atmosphere, tutoring someone to help them achieve educationally or by joining organizations like Dance Marathon and working to help families and children all around who need you.” – Zach Price, University of Southern Indiana



4. It’s OK to ask for help.

You’re not expected to know everything. This is your time to learn from others! 

Don’t be afraid to ask for help when you need it; you don’t have to figure it all out on your own! – Jess Marrello, University of New Mexico


Get to know your advisor & professors RIGHT AWAY! – Alyssa Martin, University of Findlay


Asking upperclassmen who have taken your classes is the biggest help you can get! They will be able to give you the ins/outs of your course, and will help provide useful information for your academic success. And, if you live in a city with public transportation, make sure to note that you are on the right bus or you will get lost! Always ask the bus driver where the bus is going HAHA (personal experience). – Erika Ong, University of Texas at Austin


5. It’s for knowledge that you came to college.

Don’t forget, academics is the reason you’re at school. 

Embrace the true gift of being able to learn and attain a higher level of education. While studying may not be fun ALLL the time. The effort you put in will be your return in the end, so make it worth it! – Celina Pecos, Texas Tech University


Remember to choose a major based on what you want to do, not anyone else! – Bianca Humbarger, Ball State University


Definitely do not fall behind on your academics. Your first semester of college is a great way to set the foundation of your GPA. – Steve Kim, Kennesaw State University


Do not procrastinate! Your work load is going to be harder than high school, but you have to power through it. Stay on schedule and you’ll be less stressed. – Rhian Jones, Bowling Green State University




Best of luck to the class of 2021! We can’t wait to meet you!

Miracle Network Dance Marathon is an international movement, involving students at over 300 colleges and universities across North America that fundraise for their local Children’s Miracle Network Hospitals. Students work to raise funds and awareness throughout the year with their efforts culminating in an 8-40 hour Dance Marathon event. Since its inception in 1991, Miracle Network Dance Marathon has raised more than $200 million–ensuring that no child or family fights pediatric illness or injury alone.

Learn more about Miracle Network Dance Marathon:

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