College was an interesting experience; and almost nothing like what I anticipated. I will say I didn’t have a typical college experience. I participated in ROTC and went to a small liberal arts college, a privilege that most of America is not afforded. I attended college with the intention of majoring in International Studies, minoring in Arabic Language, and finding a job working for the government. As I plan to graduate in less then two months I couldn’t be farther from that initial plan. This is the number one thing I learned in college; stay flexible.
College can honestly be whatever you make it. Whether you want it to be one crazy frat party, or you want it to be a safe-haven for intellectual discussion, you can find it. Although, sadly, the latter is much more difficult to find. People go to college for a variety of reasons, but most can be boiled down to two basic agendas: (1) to get a job and (2) it’s what you’re supposed to do. Students claim these are not what they want out of college, but of those people, the majority use it as a facade. College is a highly competitive, envy-filled, pseudo-intellectual environment, and there is really no way around that.
Colleges are run like corporations.The administration is a business and they act like it. They have one goal: to make money. If a college could find a way to hire subpar professors while maintaining subpar academic standards, yet still make money; I’m sure they would do just that. This is essential in understanding everything about college. The President of the College is merely a spokesperson, whose objective is to raise money for the school.
There are some professors out there who truly have a passion for teaching, but in my experience these professors are the exception. Most professors are in college because they have a need to be in academia, and the only reputable job within academia is to be a professor. (I have my own reasons and for saying need to be in academia but I won’t go into them here) They only care about putting their own name forward, don’t care much about the students, and their main objective is to show how intellectually superior they are to everyone else.
The students are not as diverse as colleges or the students themselves claim. Writing about the dynamic of college students could fill an entire book. But I am too lazy to go into it right now.
I used college to discover what I like and don’t like. Pretty simple. I entered college thinking I liked a lot of things that I actually don’t, and I thought I didn’t like things that I actually do. I honestly wish that college was not a necessity. It’s extremely overpriced, partially ineffective, and for many people it can amount to a wasted four years. Use college to discover yourself. It sounds corny, but it’s true. Don’t use college for academic purposes only. The social lessons learned from college can be extremely useful. Look at the social dynamics from different angles and determine for yourself what you like and don’t like. Realize that things are not going to work out the way you think they will or should. Don’t go into college expecting it to be a stimulating intellectual community or a place where you can escape from the real world. College is tied to the same cultural standards that the rest of society is. Realize that a lot changes between student’s freshman and senior years, which creates for an almost volatile climate. College students are young, opinionated, judgmental and competitive. Be skeptical of people, but have trust in those you believe you can trust. Most importantly, do what makes you happy, and do your best to learn how to not care what other people think. It will make college, and life, much more enjoyable.