By Ellen Eldridge
It’s seven in the morning on a Monday, and all I want to do is sleep. But my alarm clock obnoxiously demands my attention, so I sit up. My eyes feel like they are glued shut, and it takes almost all of my focus and strength to open them, even just to squint. By this point, my roommate is groaning at me to turn my alarm clock off. Conveniently, the remote is nowhere to be found, so I manage to stumble across the room to unplug it. I put on a hoodie, grab my keys, and make my way to the closest coffee shop. On the short drive to get my caffeine, I think about all of the things I have to do this week, and then all the things I would rather be doing. The day has officially begun, whether I like it or not.
I spend my days obsessively checking my email, sitting through required classes, studying topics that I honestly can’t relate to, thinking about what I should eat for my next meal and going to work. My favorite part of my days? Work, because I chose my job. I get paid to do something that truly makes me happy. I would totally drop everything and create videos full-time if that was socially acceptable, but it’s not.
It’s socially acceptable to go to a four-year university. It’s socially acceptable to stick to daily tasks and have a plan, and not to do something on a whim or completely random. I don’t know why or how my mindset evolved differently from the vast majority. I just know that college isn’t for me, but I’m doing it anyways.
Don’t get me wrong. I love my college. I love the town it’s in. I love the people here. And I understand why this is the norm for a lot of people. For people studying engineering, business, math and subjects like that, college makes sense. It would be extremely difficult to be successful without at least a degree from a four-year college.
College is a stepping stone into the real world. You build connections, you find what you’re good at and you pursue it. But what if you find what you’re good at and what you love, and come to realize you can’t pursue it at your college? That the college you chose to be at can’t help you develop the knowledge and skills that are essential to what you want to do? There are three options from here.
1. Transfer schools.
2. Drop out and try to figure it out on your own.
3. Suck it up and stick it out.
I chose option three. I know I can’t drop college entirely. I’ve spent countless hours researching other schools and what I need to do to transfer there, but the only types of schools that offer what I need are either technical schools, or schools that I most likely can’t get in to. So I decided to stay put. Sometimes I regret not going to college in state or close to home. And the idea of spending four years studying subjects that I honestly may never use after graduation is absolutely draining. To be completely honest, I hate taking notes. I don’t like going to class. I don’t like forcing myself to learn something that is irrelevant to my life. Regardless, I have come to the realization that college is much more than the notes you scribble, the textbooks that empty your bank account and the classes you drag yourself to.
College teaches you how to live on your own for the first time. College teaches you how to build lasting relationships and connections that could lead you to your first job. College teaches you how to work in a group without punching someone for not doing their part. College teaches you time management and how to prioritize. College teaches you self-discipline, even if you learn the hard way.
You may not notice it at first, but somehow after changing majors three times, being a part of Greek life, failing a class, working multiple jobs at once, experiencing probably too many hangovers, accidentally sleeping through class, crying to your professor, wrecking your car when you’re all alone, getting an A on a test after an all-nighter, adding countless friends on Facebook and in real life, college teaches you how to grow up.
From a strictly educational standpoint, college is not for me. But I need college. I need to learn how to be an adult. I need to learn how to handle things on my own. I need to learn when to ask for help. My college may not have the classes I want or the major I want, but I know that come graduation, I will be ready to take my next step into the real world, and I will be prepared for whatever comes my way. The four years will be worth it.