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The Pressure Of College

By Koda Carlson

The pressure of college and my feelings towards it:

All my life I dreamt of attending college. Studying in the library, getting nothing but straight A’s, staying up late working on papers, (yes, I was actually looking forward to this?) and just enjoying the academic aspect of it. I always loved learning about new things and couldn’t wait to start college so much that I graduated high school a year early. I basically created this fantasy around what school would be like for me. It was all academics and nothing relating to parties or drinking. I have tocredit this mindset to shows and books that influenced me. Things along the lines of Gilmore Girls and The Dead Poets Society. The old style of brick buildings and old stacks (the libraries). Part of this fantasy was basically telling myself that this is where I belonged.

To paint you a picture, this was something along the lines of my “fantasy”

I was fortunate enough to grow up around an incredible support system. My parents have never once judged me for any dream I had and influenced and encouraged me to follow my dreams. When I told them, that I wanted to attend college they supported me through it. Something they enforced was that I should start out at community before a 4-year university. I had it in my head that attending community wasn’t an accomplishment that you should brag about. I can thank social media and society for that. I’m close with my parents and valued their opinion. I knew that if they believed Community College would be the best fit for me, I should at least give it a shot. I couldn’t thank them enough for pushing me towards community for my first two years instead of a 4-year. Something that was also important to not only my parents but me was trying to come out of this education thing with a minimum to no student loans to pay off. We knew for that to even be an option I needed to attend community.

I’m now a sophomore at my local community college and after successfully completing a year I felt differently. I knew what college entailed going into it. I dreamt of it my entire life. I wasn’t completely blinded to the academic stress I would be put under. I loved my first year. I was a part-time student, only enrolling in 4 classes per semester. My initial goal was to only be at community for two years and then to transfer to a four year. In order to do so, I needed to at least earn my associate degree. Because I only took 4 classes per semester my first year, I was a lot of credits behind If I wanted to transfer at my planned time. So, I planned my next two semesters out and realized I needed to take at least two summer classes to be back on the right track. So, I enrolled in the last summer session my school was offering. I’m glad I did, because coming out of that I realized I was in no hurry to gain my associates degree. I burned myself out a bit and frankly had little motivation come autumn semester. So instead of taking 5 classes this semester, I decided to only take three. (I also have other reasons, but this is the main point).

Sometime between Summer and now, my whole outlook on college has changed. I always had an understanding and belief it wasn’t for everyone. I supported my friends and family no matter what they chose. After all, you have to do what’s best for you. I weighed my options which consisted of, (1) Staying in school and completing my initial plan to transfer to a 4 year and attend two more years or (2) dropping out. I hated the idea of saying I “dropped out” of college. There’s simply nothing wrong with stopping school, but because I put all this stress and expectations on myself, I couldn’t find happiness in that option.

Something I wasn’t considering though, was something I’ve always wanted to do. This has been my goal, even before my fantasy college land I made up. It was to Travel. Whenever I brought up the idea to anybody, I was told I needed money and in order to get good money, I needed a college degree, which is the worst piece of advice I’ve ever received. The way I see it, in this world and decade, you can make a living without gaining a college degree. Especially since all I’ve wanted to do was travel and write. I began to think. Is a company going to hire me with a bachelor’s degree in journalism with no experience? Or is a company going to hire me when I traveled everywhere and wrote about it all? After all, how can I write about traveling if I don’t travel?

So, I came up with a new plan. To stick through college for another year and earn my associates. Then, spend a year or two traveling. I wasn’t sure how I was going to travel, but I knew that, that’s what I wanted to do. I knew that I didn’t want to wait until I was older because the truth is, I’m not even sure if I’ll be here tomorrow. Its comforting and fun to try and plan our future, but we don’t know when our time will be up. So why should I spend it doing things I’m not 100% invested in? I rearranged my priorities and goals. I still want to do what I initially wanted to do my entire life. I have the same career goal. Which is to travel, help people, and write about it all.

I think college is a wonderful opportunity for people who are motivated and truly want it. I also think it’s a great opportunity for people who want to go into something that requires a degree. (anything health or science related etc.) but what I don’t like is only going to college because that’s what everybody else is doing. Only going to college so you won’t receive those unnecessary, and demeaning comments and speeches about how “you’re not going to be successful without a degree” and I didn’t like the idea of having to pay for my education for the next however many years. I’m finally content with my decision and it’s crazy to think that a lot of my motivation was influenced by people around me who really didn’t have a say in what I chose to do in my life because it’s my life. I see it as, if you’re not hurting anything, anyone, or yourself, you should be free to do what you please.

Weigh your options and remember there’s always a second choice. Whatever you chose should be decided considering the best factor, that it’s what you truly want to do.

Good luck with whatever you chose, I wish you the best.

Thanks for reading


photo source: Pinterest

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