“These big hoop earrings have got to go.” “I’ll pass on potato bowl.” “A glass of cabernet sauvignon, please.” In a word: abhorrent. That’s what my freshman-self would feel about those words if she knew I said them today.
A lot has changed over the past few years. My outlook on life has changed, my opinion on the way things are run on this campus has changed and my future plans (shocker) have changed. Of course, that’s what happens to everyone in college, although I for one never took the time to think about it until this semester. Perhaps it’s a result of the senior-year-induced quarter-life crisis.
But I’m not going to sit here and tell you, dear reader, that if you’re a student, to never graduate. By all means, put your nose to the grindstone and get out as soon as possible—your wallet and sanity will thank you.
Sure, if you end up on the December-graduate side of the spectrum, the college will act like you aren’t really leaving so you either have to be that premature junior walking at the graduation ceremony the May prior to finishing or make a comeback after already dissociating yourself from (and being evicted from) campus for six months.
Or maybe you won’t walk at all and save yourself a sub-par graduation speaker and the “most popular” classmate trying to sound like a savant. And you won’t get any special send off or end-of-year party, and the professors all forget senior slides turn into freefalls when there’s only one semester to pack it all in, so the sympathy on that is lacking as well… But hey, you saved over $16,000 dollars, so we all know who the real winner is.
I’m also not expecting you, especially if you’re still an underclassman, to totally change your outlook on college just because some jaded senior has been through battle and came out with wider eyes and more callouses. You will all go through your own battles, and they will shape you into different people.
But I do believe there are a few things worth reflecting on that even I wish my college-self would have considered for just a moment.
For starters, never forget you’re lucky to be here. The majority of Americans our age are not in a four-year institution, taking theology and geology and graduating with a bachelor’s degree. It’s hard to imagine differently, but realize this bubble we live in on campus is not the reality for most of our generation. For the communities many, if not most, of us come from, being here might be the norm, but that just proves the privilege and luck with which we were born. Never take your education for granted.
Secondly, don’t let these years pass you by. St. Norbert is a great school with amazing professors. If you haven’t taken a Dr. Ebert class, Dr. Tashijan class or Dr. Pyne class, I urge you to do so and fill an elective credit, even some core-curriculum credit if you can, and listen to some of the most interesting and inspiring lectures, side tangents and stories. I wouldn’t have the same vocation in mind without professors who pushed me or influenced me like they did, and that only comes from a liberal arts college education. So thank you.
On the same token, don’t be afraid to challenge the status quo. The racism, homophobia, sexism, patriarchy, major-bias and monetary motivation that lurk behind every corner of this campus don’t take much to bring to light. We belong to an inspiring generation that continually strives to finally equalize the playing field of society. Recognize the work that needs to be done in our own backyard. Recognize the opportunity our status as educated young adults provides.
Similarly, it’s okay to think that Greek and Social life on this campus are drastically overrated. They are. Nobody tells you that. I’m saying it.
What isn’t overrated are the friendships you can make in college and beyond. There is something to be said for the handful of people you encounter who actually get you. When you find them, drink lots of wine, eat lots of Pizza Hut together and never let them go. Try not to let each other down, but when it happens, forgive each other as quickly as possible, because college and life beyond it are too confusing and tumultuous to have to handle alone.
On the subject of wine, know that it is entirely normal, acceptable and possible to have a drink now and then and still have your act together. Just because a person lets loose once in a while doesn’t make them irresponsible or less driven than the next. Similarly, just because a person chooses not to drink doesn’t make them stuck-up, judgmental or less lively. Stop letting booze draw the lines around people. There is so much more to everyone than the beverages they consume.
Finally, if you think everything I said is absurd, join The St. Norbert Times and get your voice heard. Or, if words aren’t your thing, express yourself with art, converse with your friends or find some other *healthy* outlet for self-expression. Writing for the Opinion section has offered me an avenue to not only write alongside some amazing and talented peers but also make waves, no matter how small, on this campus. It has been a great opportunity and an absolute blast to write for this paper, and I thank you for reading.