What images come to mind when someone mentions going away to college? Do you conjure scenes from the movie Animal House, with wild fraternity and sorority parties, or is it more of a scholarly environment with everyone studying on benches and blankets in a serene, well-manicured green space? No college environment adheres strictly to either of these images. There will be hints of both at most colleges and a tremendous number of things happening in between.
Many students are anxious to go “get” away to college so that they are free to make all their own decisions. A relatively new term has been added to the English language to describe becoming responsible for yourself, adulting. The transition from teens to twenty-somethings is not as easy as parents make it look and that is one of the, sometimes very hard, lessons learned in college. Making all those decisions feels pretty good. The consequences that come with making all those decisions, not so much…
What about having your very own living space? That’s more likely these days but it comes at a premium price. If you are closely monitoring your expenses, your living space will likely be shared by at least one other individual that could have very different ideas about cleanliness, study habits and time management than you do.
How about all those exciting sporting events? This is a bigger deal for some students than for others, but most college students get caught up in the school spirit surrounding college athletics at least a little bit. Contrary to popular belief, there are lots of exciting sporting events on college campuses outside the Power Five schools. Although I believe that the traditional ranking of the football team is a poor reason to pick a college, students should be in an environment they enjoy.
Whatever the images that come to mind when you think about college, there are two very important reasons for going to college and the most important one is not education. The most beneficial outcomes associated with attending college are the relationships you make. They will affect everything you do for the rest of your life. Don’t get me wrong, the education component is pretty important too, but your connections will help you find opportunities to use all that information you accumulated in college, and you can’t predict where that help will originate. The lesson here is to meet people and make meaningful connections in addition to working hard on your degree. “The other education” you receive in college is very real and of vital importance. Learn your lessons well both inside and outside the classrooms.