(University of Chicago, July 2013)
If you know me, you’ll know I’ve had college daydreams since forevva, mostly elicited by a combination of my memories of life at Michigan State University and life as seen on television (20% – 50% – 30% other influences). Fantasies of walking in through ivy-covered gates, debating the meaning of life on the university lawn with other wanna-be intellectuals, and walking hand-in-hand on said lawn with a super attractive hipster frequently danced in my head; I envisioned myself going on late night coffee shop runs with my roommate (aka soul sister) to put in hours of enthusiastic study sessions.
Flash forward to the year 2013:
I had no idea that writing applications could significantly alter my view of what college life really entails.
I’ll be sweating.
Typing in all the activities that I have participated in over the course of my high school career, sending in my standardized test scores, and weighing my applications with freshman profiles of colleges nationwide forced me to realize the fact that I’m not all that special. I won’t maintain the title of being the girl who always has the keenest answers. Expectations made my professors will far exceed those established by my high school teachers; I will be among many like me, so to stand out, I’ll have to exert twice, three times, as much effort as ever before.
Calculating the actual cost of college–including housing and meal fees, subtracting merit and need-based scholarships–has also been as a splash of ice water on my heart. To be able to manage costs, I’ll definitely need to participate in work-study programs. As a result, I cannot imagine that I will have tons of free time to frolic in on the campus lawn. Things get serious when you have to plan for $20,000, $30,000, $40,000 debts.
Considering the fact that only about 30% of the schools that I applied to are below the Mason-Dixon line, I had better be factoring the implications of most likely going to school up north. The fact that many of the major snow storms east of the Mississippi River occurred around the schools I applied to doesn’t help to calm my fears of miserable flu seasons and a constant struggle to keep warm from November to March.
Dating and the social scene.
The very aspect of college life that enticed me the most has now arisen so much uncertainty within me. Will any of the guys on campus share my core values? Will I be able to resist the temptations offered up at parties? Will I even have a social life – especially with my finances? (Assuming that I’ll make it out of Collegedale) how will my classmates react to my peculiar beliefs as an Adventist? I’m starting to realize the additional challenge, not reprieve, that will come with the college social scene.
But the comfort I have received after this understanding lies in the simple truth that my education is for the purpose of fulfilling my career aspirations. My education will be the passage through which I come to my ultimate purpose of helping to promote a socially just world.