Alumni Perspectives

The Best Advice for the Best Four Years of Your Life

By Adriana Salinas

YES Prep Southeast ’09, Vanderbilt ’13, Teach For America Houston Corps '13

It’s hard to believe I’m just a few months away from being a college graduate and turning my first lifelong dream into a reality. Now officially a second semester senior at Vanderbilt University, I know I’m going to miss the all-nighters at Café Coco, the football tailgates on Greek Row, the trips to Hillsboro Village, standing in line at Pancake Pantry, and spending time with my sorority sisters baking cookies or doing community service together.  It is funny how quickly time has passed me by, but I can honestly say I’ve lived and enjoyed every minute of my college career. I couldn’t have found a better fit for a university and it has been a home away from home for four amazing years.

All mushiness aside, from a fellow YES Prep alumnus to another, here is the best advice I ever received from a college senior: It’s called the Ten-Finger Rule.  In order to be a well-balanced and fully functioning human being in college you have to use the ten-finger rule.  Look at your hands.  The first five fingers are dedicated strictly to your academics.  Your other five fingers can go towards extra-curricular or service organizations.  For example, I’ve had two jobs on campus (two fingers), a member of a sorority (third finger), a member of the Vanderbilt AmbassaDores program as a campus tour guide (fourth finger), and designed layouts for The Vanderbilt Hustler, our student run newspaper (fifth finger).  I’ve participated in these five things my entire time as a student and it has made me both successful and well rounded.  Every semester or so I’d take on an extra internship or extra service group, but these were the times in college I often felt the most overwhelmed and out of sync.  Ten fingers is the perfect amount to stay active and involved on campus while still having time to balance your academic, social, and extra-curricular lives.

I encourage everyone, especially the current college freshmen, to apply this knowledge to your life immediately.  I hope everyone is fortunate enough to share the same feelings that I’ve had about my college experience and feel proud to have made it this far in life. It’s still bittersweet for me to say I’ll be joining the real world in just a few short months.  From Houston to Nashville, Wizard to Commodore, student to teacher—I’m nervous and excited for the next chapter in my life to begin.

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