Knowing what I know now, what would I tell myself as a high school senior?

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Cherokee High School fans cheer during a football game in 2016.

It seems so far off since I was in high school, when it’s only been less than two years since I walked across the stage with my diploma in hand. When I was a senior at Wyoming Valley West in Luzerne County, I felt like I was invincible and the world was mine to conquer. I ached to get out of my hometown and go to college in the city.

I’ve learned many lessons in my two years in college that I wish I would have learned in high school. It would have saved me a lot of stress.

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Alex Hargrave is a sophomore at St. Joseph’s University.

Dear 17-year-old me,

Welcome to your second semester of senior year; you made it to the home stretch. “Senioritis” is at an all-time high, but it’s important that you keep up with your studies. The AP credits you get will come in handy when you don’t want to take that intro to psychology class. That being said, don’t get too bogged down by school, extracurricular activities, college preparation, etc. There are only a few months left of spending time with the people you grew up with, so make memories. Show them love.

Treat your teachers with respect. When you’re sitting in a college classroom six months from now, you’ll think back to everything they taught you and be thankful. Take the advice they give you. They probably know what they are talking about. Let them know that you appreciate them.

Ignore what your parents always said and get comfortable talking to strangers. It’s something that you’ll have to do from Day One in college. So to avoid the initial shock, talk to people now. Anyone. Especially as a journalist, I’ve had to talk to countless people I don’t know. At first, it was scary. But over time it gets easier. No matter what you do in life, it’s something you have to do. So get used to it. Be yourself toward everyone you meet.

If you do not know exactly what you want to do with your life yet, don’t sweat it. At 17, how is it possible to have your life figured out? I have met people who are 30 and still don’t know what they want to do with their lives. Follow your heart. Follow your gut, and you cannot go wrong.

Be excited for college, but don’t wish away these last couple of months. Get ready for the ride of your life.