The Importance of a College Experience

Maddie Deshler, Staff Writer

The pressure that students face to continue their education at some sort of college after graduating high school is at an all-time high during their junior and senior years. The main reason for this nowadays is because people believe you cannot be successful in this world unless you have a college degree. However, there is also the argument that college might not be for everyone, and for some, it really isn’t. Due to these contrasting ideas, high school students get confused. They question whether they need to take a break from school and save up money first. They wonder if they’re going to hate the college they choose. And most importantly, they fear that they have no idea what they want to do with their future.

Regardless of these reasons for why college might not seem to be a good fit for some people, I think it is at least something everyone should try at some point. I say this confidently as a student who struggles to learn in a classroom setting, has transferred two times and has considered dropping out far more times than anyone would expect.

The belief that college is a great time to expand your education and prepare yourself for the future is true, just not in the context that most people see it. People view college as being one step closer to landing their dream job at a top company with the promise that they will be very wealthy later on. For some, this may be valid, and this may be satisfying enough. However, true
satisfaction for me comes from experience, friendships, and life lessons, not job success and money.

I have sat through countless meetings with professors who suggest that I go into things such as marketing and advertising, and I just nod my head and say, “oh yeah, wow! That sounds cool!” Realistically though, I just want to be a flight attendant so I can travel the world and write about those adventures. Why am I in college then if I don’t need a degree to be a flight attendant? Isn’t that a waste of money? For me, it is not a waste of money because I am learning so much outside of the classroom environment while being in college. It is these life lessons that make it worth it.

During my freshman year, I experienced what it’s like to move to a new city and know absolutely no one. I was forced to relearn the fundamentals of how to make friends. Luckily, my roommate came along and became my best friend, and to this day, she is still my closest friend despite no longer living together. Together we learned how to step outside of the technological world we
live in today by introducing ourselves to people at the dining centers or in classes, rather than over social media. Rather than texting a group of people to see if they wanted to go eat together, we would journey over to their rooms throughout the Johnston, Fulton, Smith complex and ask them in person. From this, we realized that some of the best experiences occur when things are unplanned and you put yourself out there.

Both coming from the Twin Cities, my roommate and I somehow mastered the art of never getting bored in a smaller city than we were used to. We stayed up until 4 am on weeknights, not because we were studying, but because we were trying to quietly make popcorn in the small kitchen of our dorm hallway. We figured out how to get to all of our classes during the winter without being outside for more than two minutes. We learned how to scale the outside wall of our dorm building with one rope and the help of the guys on the floor above us. We concluded that school snow days are not good days to play football outside unless you want to get frostbite. In the end, some of the things we did were so simple, yet they were things no one would ever think of doing casually for fun. We probably should have been studying instead, but these moments will stick with me more than the lessons from Principles of Microeconomics.

Now, being in my junior year of college, I have conquered an additional year and several months of college since my days spent as a freshman. In these additional months, I have continued to do some of the most random, spontaneous things ever, but I have also had to deal with many more serious situations. Wednesday nights have been spent quickly driving over to someone’s apartment to help a friend who drank too much. Thursday nights have been spent being held in someone’s arms, crying for hours because I’m too stressed thinking about the assignments that I have no motivation to do. Sundays have been spent trying to fix my mistakes with other people after a long weekend of regret.

I cannot deny that my college experience has been filled with recklessness. More nights than I’d like to admit have been spent doing other things than studying. Mistakes have been made. Nights have been forgotten. Hearts have been broken. Tears have been shed. These are things that I could be ashamed of, but I am not, because each and every one of these moments are all simply part of my college experience.

By no means should everyone’s college experience be just like mine has been. Some people do want to focus a lot more on school. Others, however, are probably thinking the same thing as me, and they’re just here for the memories. Regardless, don’t ever be ashamed of your mistakes. Learn from them. Remember them. Look back on them later in life and laugh at them.
We’re only ever this young in college once, so take each and every second of it in. Stress about school. Don’t stress about school. At the end of the day, we’re just here learning about ourselves and life.