"This is so college." That was what one of my friends said as we sat outside in front of the Maurer School of Law earlier this semester. We had just gotten coffee at the Starbucks across the street and were relaxing in the shade watching people travel to and from Kirkwood Ave. It really was "so college." When I was in high school, I had this picture in my head of what college was going to be like. It was all sweeping grassy areas, frisbee, coffee, and cute guys in glasses (yeah I kind of like the nerdy type haha). That was what I was looking for. That is what I wanted from my college experience. Now, as I write that, it seems pretty superficial. Of course I also wanted a good education, great practical work experience, and also better friends. But first, the school had to catch my eye. There had to be that initial attraction. I was talking about this with one of my friends a few days ago..."this" being the importance of attraction. We were talking about it in the context of dating but I guess it can be applied to colleges as well. When I was college-shopping, I immediately evaluated each school based on my gut reaction to it. Was I attracted to it? Did it fit the picture I had in my head? IU definitely did. It was one of those "dat school tho" moments if you know what I mean!
What I want each of you to do right now is close your eyes after you finish reading the following instructions... Picture the college you want to go to. What does your "college experience" look like? Where are you studying? What does your classroom look like? Who is your professor? What is the area around the school like? Ok... close your eyes now and picture that...
I'm dead serious with this... CLOSE YOUR EYES AND PICTURE COLLEGE!
Ok, thanks for playing along :) But what did you see? Hold onto that image and don't settle for anything less! (And to continue the metaphor...that's what my mom always told me about dating too!) Don't settle for something that doesn't make you as happy as you can possibly be. Now of course, keep in mind things like money and location and whether or not the school actually has your major. Those are the fundamentals that have to be there in order for you to succeed. But everything else should fit right into that college experience you want.
Something that I absolutely love about college is that no two people ever have the exact same experience. I went to a really small high school where we were all kind of funneled down the same academic path and did similar extra-curriculars. It was fine then because I needed that structure but once I got to college I was ready to get out and do something new! In all of my jobs on campus, a word that always seems to come up is "experience." During Orientation, we push the idea that everyone is going to have their own "Hoosier Experience." As an RA, we spend a lot of time talking about the "Residential Experience." That's because college is more than just the school part. I mean, ultimately yes, that's why you go to college, to learn things. But I would venture to say that 50% of the things I've learned in college have been things I've learned outside of the classroom. You come to college for a degree AS WELL AS the real life experiences you'll gain along the way. And everyone has a different experience. If you come to college expecting the same thing as your older sibling or your best friend from high school, you will most likely be disappointed. I know it's sometimes fun to put yourself in their shoes and live vicariously through their adventures but try keeping your own shoes on for a while...they typically fit better! (hahahahaha) For real though, come to college ready to have your own adventures, make your own friends, and figure out how you fit into your new community. There is no "one" Hoosier Experience and no "one" college experience. You get to make it whatever you want it to be!
So find the place where you can be most comfortable. Find your place where you can look around every now and then and say, "this is so college."