From the Editors’ Desk: A Look Into College Life

Juliana Luong also contributed to this article.

Caitlin Moran once said, “I don’t regret not going to college. Students learn up to the age of 21, then stop. I’ll always be learning—the things that really matter in life. How to sign on, how to get free food, and how to be streetwise.” We all love free food.

In all seriousness, we have noticed that college expectations are deeply ingrained into the minds of school students, today more than ever. The amazing thing about kids today is our ability to have fun, while still comprehending the importance of specific things that affect our society today, from political to social issues. Guess what? College does not necessarily drive passion for those sorts of things, specifically the passion we see in young people today. Sometimes just being a living and breathing person does. Education comes from the world and living, not just school. I am not going to sit here and lie and say that college is not something people need. It certainly can be for so many people, from those who want to be doctors to those who want to be teachers. 

College life is a culture: a culture that not everyone may want to be a part of. And that is okay.

Of course, there are great things about college. The experience can turn us from shy people to confident people, and from emotional to wise. We stop thinking about ideas in black-and-white form. Ideas become more than what they seem. You end up in a room, and you find out that you can talk for hours about something that you didn't even realize was so involved. Sometimes you even find a passion worth engaging in. In a way, it even helps one understand that they can do more, beyond what they thought capable. It can turn a closed mind into an open one. College is most certainly not a waste of time, but it is also not the only way to spend your time after high school graduation. If it doesn't fulfill or satisfy you, then you really shouldn't take part in it. A miserable person will not be successful in anything.

Many of us will be heading to college in the next year, an experience that teaches critical thinking. This is important for making crucial decisions in almost all situations. But how necessary is a college education? Is college the only option? What else can I do if I do not want to go to college? There are many other paths in life that can set a person up for success, such as vocational schools, beginning a job right after high school, taking an internship, or even starting a business. 

As someone who does plan to go to college, I can tell you that it is not the only option. While it is something I deeply feel is necessary for me and what I want to do with my life, it is not for everyone. But younger people are expected to graduate high school, attend college, pay for it, and somehow manage to explore and manage other sources of happiness and satisfaction, many of which still cost money. Nothing is free. The thing is, independence and non-traditional ways of doing things are not society's expertise. We feel that we have to do what others do.

This college process was especially hard for my mom and myself (Juliana) even though my mom went through this process with my sister in 2020. The forms needed to be filled out, however, they were not as complicated as my sister’s and there weren’t as many for her. The college financial steps change a lot and don’t make it any easier for college to be affordable or to not end up with as many student loans. 

Our questions about college do not always have answers. They may have a long intricate answer that we are not sure how to break down. Many want to get a college degree because they think it proves something, and I guess it does. It proves that you were able to put yourself through more school and succeed, and that is not easy.

But if one does not go to college, is that a failure? Are they totally incapable of being important members of society who can make decisions? No. While college drives a certain way of thinking, you do not need to be made aware of the society and environment around us. Many of today's problems are obvious, and sometimes even the way to approach them, the most basic type of thinker would unfold. It does not take a college student to know that climate change and global warming are killing our earth. That, my friend, is basic knowledge. 

Either way, it is okay to be on the fence about college. You can love it, hate it, or not feel any way about it. We are excited but nervous, not sure where we will end up. But we are young and have time to figure out that path, and no one can tell you the best decision that aligns with you. Having the choice is why most of us decide to go to college. If you were forced into attending college, you probably would not want to go anymore. The power of choice is a real thing. 

If you think it is important to focus on other things besides college, then do that. While education is important, it is good for our mental health to focus on things that don’t exert a huge amount of stress, and may even help us relax. As school students, we are so worried about what to do next and what to do about our future, that we completely miss out on the moments that believe it or not, will matter the most in 20 years. Spend time with friends. Take part in something you never thought you would be interested in. You may even discover a passion for something you never thought you would consider.

Some think that not attending college is wrong, and feel they have to attend, strictly to try to find a place where they belong, and a purpose rather. But everyone has a different purpose, and we can all agree that we all have an obligation to help people and care for the people around us. Can just helping people in your community be enough purpose? Maybe not. I get it, we always want more out of something and well, maybe you even deserve more. Just do not let it consume you. Know that purpose lies in everything we do, and everything we say. Find that passion and I promise it will lead you right into that purpose you crave to find. Answer these questions before you answer whether or not college is what you really want. In the end, make sure you are making a decision that truly aligns with what your heart and mind desire. Doing anything, without a good reason, will only drain you. None of us want that.

Hopefully, I figure all this out in college. Maybe if I am lucky, before that.

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