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College Life


College.Where to begin? I spent nearly 4 years at a small liberal arts college in Tennessee. I was an unusual student for Maryville College. I was from out of state, I was intent on studying abroad, I ended up as a commuter, and I knew exactly what I wanted to major in the moment I set foot on campus. My case might not be the typical college student experience, but everyone’s got a different story to tell, so here’s mine, in a much abbreviated version.

You have to learn some things that really don’t help you much later in life. Living in the same room with a total stranger? Not helpful. Forcing down nearly inedible food? Useful in rare situations. But learning how to articulate your thoughts orally and in writing? Invaluable. Learning about how diseases spread and mutate? Fascinating. Learning a second language? Culturally and vocationally relevant. You have to be prepared to learn some lessons that will serve you well, and some that may not serve much purpose, but remember that you can’t always tell the difference until later.

I’ve lived in a dorm, eaten crappy dorm food, had some unfortunate roommates, made friends, wrote papers, crammed for tests, took road trips, moved off campus, studied abroad, led a club, had an internship, wrote a thesis, and, finally, graduated. But now, looking back, I think college is more about little, seemingly unimportant things, than milestones. It’s staying up til 3 am with friends and laughing at nothing. It’s missing your pets from home. It’s getting frustrated over formatting and editing one paper all day.

College is not something that you should feel like you have to figure out how to survive, that you need to somehow push through and just struggle on until graduation. It teaches you how to survive. Some things are sink or swim, some are about stress management, some are about how to have fun. So don’t just survive. Succeed. And make sure that you do these three things: listen to the teacher, learn something new, and have fun.

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