While preparing my last issue as opinion editor of The Collegian, I realized a few things.
First: InDesign isn’t a black hole of misery that won’t let me free until 5 a.m. anymore. Second: College is really coming to an end. Which had me wondering: What did I really learn here?
Upon reflection, I don’t think I’ve retained much. I still sat through “Les Misérables” confused, despite having taken two classes on the French Revolution. If my life depended on summarizing one of the books we read in Core, it would be time to say goodbye.
That doesn’t mean most of my professors weren’t dedicated, intelligent and helpful along the way — many of them set aside hours of their own time to answer extra questions or go through my essays or articles word by word with me.
All those forgotten tidbits are my own fault — I tend to inhale all the information I need for a test and exhale it onto the paper, only for it to evaporate the second I leave the room.
I don’t think the endless list of memorized facts and statistics and names and dates are what college is about anyway. Those are not the things that will shape who I am and the decisions I make next.
What I’ll really take away when I walk across that graduation stage is experience. Living and growing for the past four years in an atmosphere of success — a campus packed with students who know what they want and will do virtually anything to attain it — has truly changed me, the way I look at the world and how I see my future.
I hadn’t realized how much I had coasted through high school until I came here. Four years ago, I never would have written 51 articles for The Collegian, or done anything that would require me to sacrifice that much of my down time.
But when everyone around you is working so hard to be the best they can be, sitting around begins to feel like such a waste. It was an atmosphere of success that I wanted to be a part of.
But it’s not just my clips, or résumé or anything physical I’ll take away from this school. It’s that mindset — the “of course I’m going to succeed, I just have to figure out how” — that has rubbed off on me permanently.
The knowledge that I’m part of a long line of accomplishment is always going to stick with me, pushing me higher every time I want to settle for less. Who wants to be the only person in their graduating class who didn’t accomplish something great?
College is astronomically expensive, so I have questioned many times over the course of my years here if it was all worth it. I’ve worried that the long nights toiling away on history papers or Minds and Machines homework were just a pricy way to bide my time.
And today, I can’t say not a minute went to waste, but looking around me and realizing what impressive company I’ve been in and how it’s shaped me as a person, I know I got what I came for. And I came to the right place to get it.