By: Nicole Bates
I always heard the cliché: “College is the best four years of your life.” However, since arriving at college, I have become skeptical of this statement, because if college is the best four years of your life then I guess life is just downhill from here!
Now don’t get me wrong- college is fun! I love getting drunk with my friends on the weekend and having very little responsibility, but I think to myself: “There must be something more to it than this.” I know I’m getting deep here, but seriously! When you think about it, that cliché does not make sense. College may be the most reckless four years of your life, or the years where the most change happens, but is it really the BEST four years of your life?
I wonder to myself if that cliché has been spread as a means of control. They tell you that, so you are motivated to get good grades in high school, get into college, and get a degree. Then you can “contribute something meaningful” to the world. But sometimes I find it is easy to lose sight of why you are really here; to learn and grow as a human being. And in that case, you are really just following a socially constructed path: you graduate, get a boring, well-paying job, start a family and live in the suburbs. Before you know it, you’ll be just like your parents!
I am letting my cynicism take over a little here. I don’t necessarily think that lifestyle is a bad one. For some people, their goals revolve around stability and family. However, I feel as though the system doesn’t really allow room for students, who may not necessarily fit that mold, to explore other options. So, now that you have some idea of my stance on college, let me tell you about the mid-college crisis I experienced when I arrived at school this fall.
I have never felt truly settled at UMass, but I think coming into my junior year, I went into full-on crisis mode. With two years in and two years left I thought: what am I actually doing here?
I’m starting to get antsy because now the novelty of being away from parents and going out to college parties has worn off, and I’m left to think about what I am actually getting out of an education that is costing me (and my parents) tens of thousands of dollars every year, and will leave me in debt for years after I am finished.
So, there I was a few days into the semester, sitting in my dorm room, having a BREAKDOWN. I was questioning my major, questioning my intelligence, and most importantly realizing I had become completely disillusioned by my education.
I called my parents and told them: “I know I’m a junior but I think I have to change my major.” Coming into this year I was a communication primary major with a theater secondary major and a minor in French. But I wasn’t fully invested in what I was learning; I missed reading challenging books in English class, I missed learning about animals in biology, and I never thought I’d say it but- I missed math. I discovered I actually love learning, and if I am going to be paying for this education, I want to feel like I am being educated.
My Dad’s solution to this crisis was to drop out. And I’m not going to lie; I seriously considered that as an option. But when my roommate heard me on the phone and gave me a worried look I knew that wasn’t a serious option.
I would be sad if I left.
Because as disillusioned as I had become at UMass, I knew I still had some good things going for me. I have amazing friends, in-state tuition and access to university resources I would not otherwise have access to.
Realistically, looking back at my life decisions, I think I would have really benefitted from a gap year, and I wish that was presented to me in high school as a viable option. But there’s no point in dwelling on the past, so I decided I needed to pull myself together and figure my shit out.
So, I acted.
I changed my secondary major to something where I felt I would be more intellectually engaged, and now in my four years I will come out with a double major and two minors: talk about making the most of your time here!
If you are anything like me and college isn’t what you hoped it would be, don’t get discouraged. And if you are younger than me and already questioning your major, DO NOT HESTITATE to explore your options. Because in the end, your undergraduate major won’t really matter, so you might as well study something you are passionate about.
A cliché I do agree with is “everything is what you make of it.”
No matter what kind of college experience you are having- make the most of it. Because though I don’t think it is necessarily the best four years of your life, it is definitely an influential period in a young person’s life, and you should be stimulating your mind in classes, in conversations with peers and in exploring everything the world has to offer.