Courtney Clark is a graduate from Flagler College in Saint Augustine, Florida. In 2014 she received her Bachelor of Arts in English with a minor in Creative Writing. Her passions include literature, animals, and coffee. She has had pieces featured in FLARE: The Flagler Review and Paperfinger Magazine. One day she hopes to work for a publishing company and eventually become a successful writer.
As a recent college graduate, I am often baffled (pleasantly so) by how much I’ve changed in three years. I didn’t think I would, but I’m relieved I did.
Going away to college is an entirely different experience from being in high school. This is coming from someone who was only an hour away from home and still managed to do almost a 180 degree turn. Students probably hear often, as I did, that they’ll be different people upon leaving a university. Yet it’s difficult to imagine how, when, and why the change will occur.
Does everyone change? Probably not. I won’t attempt to speak for everyone. However, my friends and I certainly did change. As an example, one of my closest friends started out as a Catholic and has since renounced her religion.
Here’s the thing: Don’t allow change to frighten you.
Oh, I’m sure that many freshmen students are excited for change. They’re excited to get away from their parents, to live without someone to consistently answer to. It’s exhilarating. What can be scary, however, is contemplating a shift in your entire moral code. Were you raised conservative? Once you have that diploma in your hand, four (or two, or six) years later, you may be utterly liberal-minded. Or vice versa. And that’s okay.
College classes aren’t only meant to educate you on specific subjects. Sure, you learn about differential equations in some math class I never took, or you learn about basic psychology in a general education course, such as the one that too frequently served as my napping period.
What’s not in the course catalog? How discussing a contemporary novel can open your eyes to not only past social injustices, but to the social inequality that is prevalent in modern society. How your general education science course will cause you to appreciate the natural world around you. How your roommate will put into perspective the worst person you can be (but your roommate might deserve it). The syllabus doesn’t mention that the classmate who sits next to you will be the one who gets you through your first year, and then ends up being the first one at college to hurt you. You won’t expect the crushing sadness you feel when delving into the annals of history. And you’ll be exhilarated when the guy/girl you’ve had your eye on since week one starts flirting with you.
I won’t tell you everything, because that will ruin all of the fun. One of the most important things to keep in mind is this: Keep your mind open. Don’t be too resistant. College will challenge your beliefs. Professors will broach uncomfortable subjects that cause you to doubt. This is good. If you still maintain your opinion – or what you hold to be as fact – when you leave that class, then this is okay, too. At least you (hopefully) have a better understanding of yourself. Get close to people. College isn’t nearly as enjoyable without the friend you may not speak to in two years (but who may have introduced you to a really awesome wine), or the relationship that broke your heart (but that showed you how strong you really are).
Sure, this sounds cliché. Step into the world with open arms and all that jazz. But really. Do it.