Cutting the cord on the “College Experience”

ELIF GABB Opinion Editor

To all returning students, welcome back! And to all new students here at South Dako-ta State, I wish you good luck in beginning what will be some of the weirdest years of your life. You’re going to have so much fun.

You’ll try to figure out how you ended up at Taco John’s at midnight for the third time this week.

You’ll stumble along trying to find classes until you finally muster up the courage to ask somebody for directions.

You’ll experience college parties for the first time and realize that they are completely overrated.

You’ll watch way too much Netflix, when instead you should be writing that essay with its ever looming deadline.

You’ll miss your family and friends terribly, yet on some days, you won’t miss them at all.

For most of us, the college experience is a rite of passage. But I have to ask, why are we so obsessed with it? With a great deal of hard work, come next spring I shall be graduating with my Bachelor of Arts degree completed in three years rather than the regular four. I do not mention this fact in order to brag. I bring it up because of the reaction I face when I tell people I am graduating in three years and not four.

Unlike what you’d expect, I do not receive a “congratulations” or “nice job.” The most common response is “why?” with a sneer added onto their face for good measure. I struggled to understand why my achievement was met with so much hostility until now. It all comes down to fear.

As great as the “college experience” is, it has to end at some point. However scary it may be, we all have to step out of college—a very expensive extension of our childhood—and out into the real world.

I recognize that it’s tough, I really do. I have absolutely no clue what I want to do after college, but I’m still graduating early. I made the choice to start living. (Although, I may have to eat my own words if I end up at law school and decide to relive college all over again.)

Too often I see people extend their stay at college for no good reason. I do not mean the people who have to take a semester or two off to work and save up for the crushing expenses college brings—I mean the people who extend their stay at college “just because.” To keep drinking; to keep partying; to keep ordering way too much Domino’s for one person; to keep extending their child-hood; to keep on living the “college experience.” They don’t want it to end. Unfortunately, it just has to. 

But if I am allowed one final word on the “college experience,” it has to be this: never think that your time at college will be the best time of your life.

College is tough. You’ll wake up miserable after two hours of sleep trying to meet a deadline; your caffeine tolerance will become so high that coffee just doesn’t affect you anymore; you’ll make some great friends who end up breaking your heart time and time again.

College will change your life for the better, but somehow also leave you battered, broken and bruised. In the end, regardless of what happened during our time at college, we still have to pick ourselves up, dust ourselves off and walk away.

Take my hand—we’ll do it together.

Elif Gabb is the Opinion Editor for The Colle-gian and can be reached at [email protected]