January 27th, 2014
[This is the first assignment I had to do for one of my writing classes this Spring semester. The prompt was to talk about the college experience, the pros and cons, what my feelings are about college, etc. I may have gone a bit overboard, but I'm still quite proud of it.. I hope you enjoy my perspective.]
During the course of being a student these past two years, I’ve learned a lot about myself as a person, and my identity as a college student. I spent one year in New Haven, Connecticut, and this is my first year at URI, so I’ve been able to compare the two years in different ways.
I thought that I would be ready for college. That I would be able to finally be myself, relax, and have fun. Yeah, well, one out of three ain’t bad. I learned that I don’t have to work all the time to please everyone. I don’t have to lie about my emotions to make the people around me more comfortable about things. I learned that college isn’t as fantastic as we’re told as kids. We grow up expecting our lives to follow the same path as our parents. Elementary school, middle school, high school, college, nice job, family, retirement. The fact is, that just won’t cut it.
The American education system is training us to be obedient workers. It’s training us for jobs that no longer exist, factory jobs. We think of college life as a stereotype of the best time of our lives, freedom from the structure that we’ve been bound in our entire lives. Instead it is this complicated, official institution that causes stress and a breakdown of mental health. It’s expensive, and the benefits barely outweigh being in debt for the next few decades. I would rather be at home, NOT paying thousands of dollars, just writing everyday and being myself, than living in a cramped, broken down dorm and freaking out about how I’m going to pull myself through the new semester of classes.
I’ve learned over the past couple of years to just go with the flow and not stress out as much. I’ve learned to get sleep where I can get it and not push myself past my limits, no matter what I have due the next day. My physical and mental health is more important than passing my classes, no matter what I’ve been taught to understand over the course of my life.
My entire life, I’ve been told that I’m intelligent, ‘gifted and talented’. I had special classes, with the same group of kids year after year. So yeah, we got close, but school-wise everything was still pretty simple. The ‘challenging’ classes weren’t for the talented, and I was told that I was just too smart for them. So when I got to high school and everything got complicated, I didn’t know how to study, because I’d never had to. I barely even knew how to pay attention.
My grades plummeted. This last semester is the first time I’ve gotten all A’s since 8th grade. We were never taught anything important. Why isn’t there a class on taxes? Or on how to properly pay for a college education? We had to figure everything out ourselves, while we were still struggling to figure out who and what we wanted to be. We are treated as children for our entire lives, and then once we hit eighteen, we’re expected to make the biggest decision of our life, in the course of a few months. Don’t you think we should have been at least a little prepared for that?
Teenagers are taught to be quiet about their opinions, how to conform, how they’re supposed to behave and treat others, but we’re not taught the basics about how to survive through life. As high school students we watch these movies where college is a breeze, all parties and booze. In fact it’s a structure of society meant to help the rich and keep the poor in poverty. Imagine how technology would be advanced if every child born just in 1994 was able to grow up and be in college right now? Imagine the potential. But society doesn’t allow for this to happen because college in America is so expensive and stressful. If I didn’t have the parents that I have, I probably would have dropped out already.