The beginning of the school year is a time of hopes and dreams. Incoming and returning students feel the buzz of new relationships and the anticipation of new classes. August is a beacon of second chances and new beginnings. Don’t take this new year for granted. Set your sites on what you want and do everything in your power to accomplish your goals.

A dilemma students may face is finding goals to set. Some people in their 40’s and 50’s still have no idea what they want to do with their lives. You need to know that this ok. We are all different and do not develop on the same plane. Some individuals know from a young age exactly what they want to do others need more time to figure this out. The only things we should all have in common are dreams. If you don’t have dreams then you don’t have anything.

Another point we all need to understand is the old saying, “Rome wasn’t built in a day”. Just because you may be at the bottom of the ladder now does not mean you will always be. We all need to grow and change in order to fully appreciate our hidden talents and values. Take baby steps and reevaluate yourself along the way.  Give yourself some time. The famous actor Morgan Freeman won his first Academy Award when he was 67 years old for the film Million Dollar Baby. In many instances we want instant gratification, but we have to learn to wait.

Risk taking is something that is very hard to do. If an opportunity rises, by all means, take it. External influences like family and friends can get in the way of us taking these risks, but we need to ask ourselves what we really think is right. If it is an opportunity that you will kick yourself for if you don’t do it, do it. Now these risks should not include things like drugs or having a one-night stand. Don’t do anything that could potentially put you in harm’s way. Do something that will expand your potential and increase your understanding for the human existence.

Making this year “your year” is what everyone should work toward. Your goal doesn’t have to be big like becoming CEO of Microsoft or Editor in Chief for Ebony magazine. It can be something small. If you are really interested in politics join Student Government, College Democrats, College Republicans or any other political group that suits your interest. If you want to play sports there is a plethora of club and intramural athletics to choose from. Student Media is a great place to fulfill your creative genius in more ways than one. If you have a passion for the arts, NC State can also facilitate that. Music, drama, dance and visual art are all parts of Arts NC State and being a part of something like that is wonderful.

Dwelling on the past can be detrimental to your positive development. If you keep beating yourself up for the mistakes you’ve made in previous years or the wrongs that were done to you by others, you will never move on. The key is to accept things as they are and move forward. I am not saying forget, but use the negative to positively affect the future. As the saying goes, “you live and you learn.” We all have to learn one way or another. Let your light shine in the present.

In this new year, we should all be focused on reaching our highest potential. Reaching your highest potential includes doing away with those that are negatively impacting your life. If you have friends that call themselves your friends but do not have your best interest at heart, let them go. You don’t need them. We as human beings are social beings in a social world so we need each other. The distinction is that you do not need everyone. If all of your friends just want to talk about themselves, give them a mirror. They can be narcissistic with themselves all day long. It is hard to cut the cord with a love interest or a significant other because you may share a special bond that runs deep. It is best for you, if you know they are not going to benefit you, to free yourself from them as well. As college students our futures are as bright as the sun and no one should stand in the way of that.

Make the school year 2009-2010 your year to shine. Join more clubs, raise your GPA, and make new friends. You need to be happy within yourself before you can be happy with someone else. Concentrate on what makes you unique. Most importantly, love yourself for who you are and never give up.