College. I used to have a T-shirt that simply had the word branded across the chest in big navy blue letters. College. Its not really a place anymore, its an atmosphere, its a fantasy world. A bubble.
My best friend and I talked about this on our morning coffee route. We were perplexed and trying to figure out where the true meaning of college disappeared to. What happened to working before playing? When did college become the chance to make your dorm room look like a Target advertisement? When did beer pong and frat parties start becoming the “essence” of college life?
When the song “I Love College” came out in mid 2009 I knew we were going somewhere. Downhill. You see, I sometimes feel like an alien in this college environment. I put my work first. I don’t like chugging pitchers of beers. “Hooking up” is not on my to-do list.
I sometimes feel like I don’t fit in like the typical college student. I don’t go out on Tuesday nights. I don’t sleep through Saturday and Sunday. I wake up at the crack of dawn, any day, get a workout in and hit the books. When I complain to my mother about the massive amounts of work on my plate, she replies back “That is what you are there for.” So why is everyone around me seemingly having more fun? Why is no one else spreading a thick layer of guilt upon their brains when they skip a class or they get a B on a paper?
Being a chairperson for the Orientation program at Assumption I see a pretty uneven split. Sure there are the kids that want their class schedules, they want to be involved, they want to excel in college. Then there is the majority of students that want two questions answered for them: Where are the good parties on campus? Is the work hard?
Students shy away from the challenges in the classroom, and find ways to make it to weekend, week after week. We pick classes and I can hear my friends chatter away, wanting to fill their time slots with professors who are “easy graders” and “don’t give homework.” Really? Do you even care about learning anything?!? I want to scream in their face, “GO FIND A CHALLENGE!!” Challenges are going to bombard in the real world, if we don’t start welcoming them now then how can we ever plan to excel or hold a poise and grace when the tough stuff comes along.
I slaved away in my senior seminar course for Mass Communications this past semester. I was bitter, I thought the teacher was giving far too much work. I was crying nearly everyday over what was expected of me. I got the end of this class just this past Tuesday and it finally hit me. I had done it. I had challenged myself and made it through. I was proud. This kind of feeling does not come from that class that is supposed to be an easy A, or the class that we take as a filler for an elective. I realized that this is what college is supposed to be about. Learning what we are capable of. Learning to take a challenge and run with it.
So what if I don’t like binge drinking or hooking up with random guys at the bar. That is not my college scene. I came to college to work hard and occasionally play hard. But at the end of my four years I know I will be walking away, not with a gap in my memory of what happened in the last 40 weekends, but an education, a transformation and a new self that is ready to shake hands with the real world. And hey, I still love college… just like everyone else.