By Clare McGreevy
“Enjoy your college years – they only last so long.”
This is a piece of advice that I, and all young college students, have heard many times from many people. It is somewhat of a standard response to revealing your identity as a college student, or mentioning school at all.
Most recently, it was my dentist who imparted this sage line of wisdom to me during my annual appointment. From aunts, uncles and (evidently) dentists comes the insistence that your time in college will be the highlight of your young life, unrivaled by any other possible exciting experience.
For the most part, people interpret that statement as permission to party all night or do whatever they want.
I agree with all of the wise small-talkers who are constantly reminding us that the wild and free college experience is fleeting. It’s important to enjoy your youth while it lasts. However, the college experience is so much more than that. After all, the number one reason that we’re all here is to learn and earn our degrees.
Yes, the late nights studying in the library can be frustrating, exhausting and seriously trying times, but the intellectual experience that college provides is unsurpassed by that of any other life circumstance that we may encounter after graduation. Despite the stress that often comes with being a full-time student, being surrounded by so much active and diverse thinking is truly the most valuable aspect of college.
Maybe I’m just a nerd, but I get really excited when I make connections between different classes. This is when I remember how lucky I am to be surrounded by so much knowledge and so many academic resources. I think most other students realize this, too.
Another occasion that forces us to appreciate our role as students arises when we have those “wow, I never thought about it that way before” moments. Because the College requires all students to fulfill liberal learning requirements, we all take courses that deal with contentious or profound social topics. Many times these courses open students’ eyes to concepts and ideas that they would’ve never in a million years have even heard of otherwise.
This phenomenon is not limited to the classroom. Unlike any other place that I know of, on any given sunny day, the sidewalks are lined with tables and booths surrounded by conscientious students eager to tell you all about the club or organization they’re involved with, pushing you to consider all types of diverse social and political causes.
This is perhaps my favorite part of college — there are so many hard-working students who truly care and are eager to learn and try to solve the issues that we’re exposed to. It feels really cool to be a part of an institution where big things are always happening and so many people are learning and growing together. There is so much active thinking about real issues and interesting topics surrounding you during your college years, and that won’t necessarily be the case once you leave.
Granted, I haven’t graduated college and entered the workforce yet, but I’m assuming that most jobs aren’t as intellectually stimulating as being a student.
So enjoy your time in college –– every minute of it. Of course, having a great time out with friends and enjoying the social freedom is a big part of the unforgettable college experience, and you should value that, but don’t forget to appreciate your education while you’re at it. After all, that’s why we’re all here!