I’m in complete awe at the fact that I am sitting here, as a college graduate, writing about what the last four years has thought me, even though it was nearly impossible to see the end. Last Saturday I had the privilege to walk across the stage (that was technically just the front of a church) to receive my diploma of completion in school and it essentially started the beginning of my forever. W H A T T H E H E L L! I remember plain as day being an eighteen year old walking onto the campus of a community college and registering for classes, having no idea what to expect. It was only one year later that I worked up the courage to stop settling and apply to a four year college attending Virginia Commonwealth University. I originally attended community college to save money and figure out what I wanted to do with myself, but I also knew that I needed to push myself out of my comfort zone in order to succeed. One month later I found myself turning in VCU’s application and I received my acceptance letter in the mail of April 2015. VCU is where I made my home for the next four years and where my heart will forever live even long after I am gone.
My constant remark made about college is, “I’ve learned more in college than I have the entirety of my life” but when that question is followed by “well, what did you learn?” my immediate response is, “I have no idea.” This sums up my college experience to a T. Within this post I will try my hardest to express what four years of studying, writing papers, reading hundreds of books, late night group projects, and crying over literally everything has taught me and made me the woman I am today.
No One Knows What the Heck They Are Doing
Or I should say, I don’t know what the heck I am doing, and that’s okay! My senior year of high school the question of what I wanted to go to school for was very prominent in my life and became a very scary topic to talk about. When I spoke of being a journalist for National Geographic or moving to California to start my own fashion magazine, my dreams were shot down so quick I couldn’t even finish the sentence. I look back at that now and I think, yeah I was shooting a little too high, but damn, If I had the encouragement I could have been there by now. In all seriousness though, I pursued the path of becoming a high school English teacher from the beginning of my college journey. I was always told I would be a good teacher and people always said they could see me conducting a classroom, although I was not too fond of the thought that I would be in a school my whole life, I was sure the more I worked towards it the more I would be excited about it.
I continued on with the English and writing path and found myself to be very good at what I was doing. I struggled in so many classes due to lack of interest, but my English classes never failed to amaze me. I was receiving mostly A’s in all of my major courses and knew I was exactly where I needed to be. When it came to my education classes, I couldn’t really say the same. Fast forward to my first semester of my senior year, and I was completely done with the thought of teaching high school students or being anywhere near a school for that matter. I starting hating my education class and dreaded filling out the graduate school application. I was terrified I was letting myself and my family down. My fiance had always been so proud of me for knowing exactly what I wanted to do and sticking to it. Especially with how common it is for undergraduates to change their major every five months. But with much thought and a lot of tears, I had decided against grad school and will pursue the path of an English major, and I’ve never been so happy about it. I finally feel free to express my true passion of reading and writing without the assumption that you have to be a teacher to do it. So, the first lesson, and it is one that came much later in school, is that it is completely, 100% okay if you have no idea what you are going to do with the degree you have. You should just be proud of yourself for completing the degree in one piece.
You Can Be Drunk and Still Get an A
You can’t be considered an alcoholic if you’re still in college!
College is a stressful time in someone’s life, especially if you’re juggling relationships, jobs, and a social life all at the same time. School is more expensive and a lot harder than when our parents were in school, so remember that when they say you’re just complaining and they went to school uphill, both ways, with no shoes on. But something that I have learned with this stress is that it is okay to let lose every now and then and have a couple of drinks. There have been many times that I take a break from studying to enjoy a margarita with my friends, or finished my homework just in time for wine Wednesday’s and thirsty Thursday’s. And we can’t forget those nights you’ve had one too many Miller Lights and you remember that assignment is due at midnight. You just simply places yourself in a quite corner and knock that assignment out like a boss. When you get the assignment back with a fat ‘A’ stamped on the front with a note from your professor saying, “I love the creativity!” you know you’ve made it. College has truly thought me the juggling act of partying and getting work done efficiently, and not being judged for drinking a little too much; because remember, college is the only time in your life where it is acceptable to be hungover the next day in class.
You’re No Better Than Anyone Else
Once you move on to the continuation of your education, you start to notice those who didn’t make that same decision as you. You’ll notice the same students you went to high school with are working a full time job without taking classes on the side, some got married and started their families, and some are chilling at their parent’s house trying to decide what their next move is. Being at a university can create condescending personalities, and I’ve found myself being guilty of this negative trait a time or two. It’s hard not to when everyone around you is judging those who aren’t going to college to better themselves. They say that they’ll never get a real job without a degree and they messed up not going to school. But I am here to tell you that just because you attend a four year college does not make you better than anyone else.
College cost money; money that most students aren’t even paying themselves without the help of loans or their parent’s savings accounts. Not everyone has the privilege to attend a college and not everyone is inspired enough to go. I am the first child out of four kids to graduate with a degree, and the first one in my family entirely. My parents are the two wisest people I know, and they didn’t need college to achieve that. Even with my degree I will always look for their guidance and knowledge in life to help me succeed and to be a better person. You might be working hard in a classroom everyday to create better opportunities for yourself, but someone is doing the same out in the workforce getting a completely different experience and knowledge than yourself. Working hard is important and don’t sell yourself short of an opportunity, but open your eyes to learning from others no matter where they come from, their background, or what degrees they hold. I will never encourage someone to skip out of going to college, because the knowledge I have gained in those classrooms has been life changing, and I believe everyone has the ability to succeed in school. But that doesn’t mean that I would ever judge someone for not going to a university because my degree will never make me superior to anyone else. It simply just makes me different than others. I appreciate the diversity in my family and in my peers and I take time to learn as much from them as I can. I can only hope that others would take time to learn from me.
Obviously these aren’t the only lessons I have learned after spending thousands of dollars in school, but I like the think they are the most important ones. Yes, even the lesson on being drunk and getting an ‘A’. The fact of the matter is, I have learned so much at my time at VCU that it would be impossible to list them all. I have experienced paying bills, how to work through issues, and built relationships and let go of old ones. All in all I have become the woman I want to be; educated, understanding, and loving. Also, I never, NEVER would have made it this far without my family’s encouragement. So don’t forget to thank whoever has pushed you to be your greatest self; they deserve it as much as you do.