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What I Learned As An Undergrad

Phillip Leidner, a graduating senior at the University at Albany, reflects on his experiences inside and outside of the classroom–how he has grown both intellectually and as a person and offers advice for students coming into college. Phillip graduates following the completion of the fall 2013 semester with a Bachelor of Arts.

What I learned as an undergraduate college student

Four Years Later

I graduated high school and decided I was going to do two years at Nassau Community College. After my first year there, I decided I was ready to move on and applied to the University at Albany. The reason behind this was because of the reputation of their business school, as well as changing the scenery and living on my own. Over the past four years as an undergraduate student, I have learned a lot of valuable things–whether it be educational or just things about everyday life.


University_at_Albany,_SUNY_(logo)After transferring into the University at Albany, I was definitely nervous about school and underestimated how difficult it was to adjust to the class size. The first year I did not do as well as I had planned (this was my first learning experience). After my first year here, I learned that knowing your teachers is extremely important. I was scared to approach or contact my teachers, and my grades suffered because of it. When I didn’t understand something, I simply chose to figure it out myself, instead of getting positive advice from my professors. My best piece of advice about this was to contact your teachers, and show them that you care about succeeding.

Another thing I learned over my last four years is to take what you can get. Now, this does not mean to strive for bad grades; this means something different. If in the beginning of the class, the teacher tells you I will give six extra credit or easy quizzes throughout the semester, GO TO CLASS! I have missed plenty of easy quizzes and extra credit points just from missing a class.

My advice here is that the only way to do well and learn is to go to class.


After my sophomore year, I chose to move off campus and live in a house with my friends. Although my parents did not love the idea, it helped me so much. Living on your own is a very different experience! Little things such as toilet paper and soap are huge to college students.

The biggest thing I took out of living on my own is to manage my money. In the beginning of my time off campus, I did not realize how fast money goes. I would spend spend spend, and when it came to things I needed, I was broke! My best piece of advice is to manage your money in order to make sure you have money for essentials. I am not saying do not have fun, but make sure the money is there when you need something important!

Social Life

Throughout my time at SUNY, I realized how distracting social life can be, but I feel it is extremely important. Focusing on school work is really important (that’s pretty obvious), but I think having a great balance of social and school life is a perfect way to make it through college! Sometimes I would be so overwhelmed with school work, and just need some time to relax and get it off of my mind. Believe me, I am not saying to abandon school work; I am saying to make sure to find the right balance. If you have to stay in one weekend for school work, do it. If you have free time to relax, relax!

The best of both worlds is key.


Toward the end of my time at SUNY, I realized just how important networking actually was. As a sophomore and a junior, I did not think about my future, and instead tried to finish that year and get good grades. What I didn’t realize is that during that time, I could have been making relationships with my teachers that could have helped me in the future. I took having all of this information at my fingertips for granted, and definitely regret this!  My best piece of advice is to start networking early!  Whether it be friends, roommates, teachers, or advisers, make connections, and start early!

All in all, my four years here at the University at Albany have been ones I will not forget. Take my advice seriously, because the experiences I had and the lessons I have learned are things that will benefit me greatly as I move on to my next challenge. I wish I had known these things before I started!

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Written by Phillip Leidner

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