When my students inform me that they have no intention of going to college, a small piece of me dies. I don't feel badly because I let them down, or the school let them down, but because they are depriving themselves of so much life. Most often, they choose this path not because of grade or finances but because they have no motivation to attend school any longer than they absolutely have to. And that breaks my heart. I firmly believe that college, at least in some form, is a necessity. Now, some of you out there may be rolling your eyes and saying that it's very privileged or sanctimonious of me to say so. But hear me out...
In high school, we were forced to attend a ridiculously motivational assembly during the first day of my freshmen year. During the course of that painfully long assembly, we were reminded, time and again, that high school is (you guessed it) "the four best years of your life". Blah-de-blah-de-blah. If that were actually the case, wow, we humans live a very pathetic and trivial existence. Thankfully, my high school experience wasn't half-bad, but it was still high school, i.e. annoying drama around every corner, zits, parents in your business, boring part-time jobs on the weekend, the reek of B.O. in the hallways, zero to nil actual independence, etc.
But I digress. Fortunately, my sisters and I were blessed to grow up in a home where we knew we would go on to college after high school. It was just expected. We worked hard and received scholarships and were able to get additional help from our parents and the money we'd saved from the jobs we'd worked since we were 14. However, when I first arrived at college, I'll admit that I panicked. Now what? As the eldest of four sisters, I was always the first to try everything, and here was another case of jumping in blindly. Then, I looked back over my high school years and thought again, "What do I mean, now, what? Now, everything!" And so I began to immerse myself in the amazing world that is a university campus. Coming from a teeny, tiny town in the middle of nowhere, I embraced the wonderful activities, courses, and sports that I found. Most of all, I welcomed new experiences, and I met a variety of incredible people from all around the state, country, and world. Life was awesome. I have to say the best year of my life was my senior year of college (in fact, every one of my college years would far outrank my high school years), when I lived in a dilapidated house with 7 of my best friends (6 of whom I'd met in college), had met the love of my life, and finally felt that I'd truly discovered who I am as a person. So, without any further ado, here is why I love, love, love college:
1. The people. Whether you're from just east of nowhere or the heart of the city, you've acclimated to your own little niche of people all your life. In college, you have the opportunity to meet all types of people. Some will become your best friends, while others may become your enemies, but never dismiss the opportunity to meet people from outside your typical social circle.
2.Campus activities. The perfect opportunity to broaden your horizons. I went to a state school, and not a very large one at that, but there was still every single activity and club under the sun. Everything from yoga to rugby when it comes to sports, and a million social, religious, political, and educational clubs.
3. Study Abroad. Traveling anywhere in the world, learning about foreign cultures and languages, having an amazing adventures at the height of your life- for me, at least, it was a given. I spent a semester in Scotland, and, though it it took most of my bank account to get me there and keep me there for the full semester, the experience itself was priceless.
4. A ridiculous amount of free stuff. Heck yes, I had to include this. Yes, it is one of the sillier reasons on my list, but just ask any college kid and they will tell you that, as a college student, people will offer you free food and books, as well as coupons for bowling, sporting events, etc. You will likely also have access to free concerts, fitness centers, a variety of activities, and speakers just from being on campus (or at least these things will be greatly discounted). Granted, you probably won't have any spending money, so things practically have to be free...but I think it still counts.
5. Finding Yourself. It sounds uber cheesy, but you can bet by the time you're out of college, you'll be a different person than you were when you started. Usually, hopefully, you're a better educated, well-rounded, more open-minded, intelligent, and creative version of yourself, though that's not a guarantee ;) Regardless, the experience will be an important part of who you are.
The most important thing that I did, through it all, was write everything down. Every day wasn't perfect, but, looking back, it's obvious that these college years are the real best days of life.