It’s that time of year again when people the world over start back at school and college. For the first time is what seems like a billion years, I’m not returning to education this September and that’s a really jarring feeling for me. I’m used to the typical scramble to get class ready, the rush to kit out my wardrobe in time for the fashion show that is the first weeks in September and the panic to work as many hours as I can in a tiny space of time to make sure living off noodles and bags of pasta weren’t my only option. Finally a graduate; i’m relishing the small bit of free this comes with but that doesn’t mean the last 4 years weren’t some of the best in my life. Academics aside, college has given me the opportunity to grow up, build some really useful skills and meet a few of the greatest people alive. Here’s to the other (non-academic) lessons a college education gives!
Big Girls Do Cry
“‘I’ve got to get a move on with my life, It’s time to be a big girl now and big girls don’t cry” Sorry folks, Fergie lied. Big Girls most certainly do cry and this particular gal isn’t ashamed to admit she cries all the time; especially because of college. From day one I was out class babbler and I know I will never be alone in saying that college has caused me to shed more tears than any other period of my life. Assignments too difficult? Cry in the library. Haven’t studied enough for your exams? Bawl in the hall. Stress? Anxiety? Lack of Chocolate? CRY CRY CRY. It must be something in the air surrounding the repressed hormonal college student crew that makes college such an emotional affair. Heading off for your first big college semester? Pack the Kleenex and waterproof mascara and prepare for the waterworks. (I’ll be the one hiding behind her Macbook in the office, silently sobbing over pictures of really cute dogs for no apparent reason what-so-ever and I hope that never changes)
Bitchiness Doesn’t End in Secondary School
I thought I left childish behaviour behind when I stepped away from secondary school but boy, oh boy does it follow you right up into third level education and out the door into the working world. I want to be idealistic; to think that as we age we get more mature in dealing with those who surrounds but in reality I think we just get better at being closeted bitches (and I’m talking about you males too, I’m all about battling them gender norms here). College opens a new type of competitiveness; usually reserved for those who are battling to outdo other’s grades, make the coveted 1.1 and get the highest paying graduate job before everyone else. Personal, I am delighted for anyone no-matter what they get and I’m especially proud of people who outdo me. I’m not special for my laidback views on results, I just don’t have the gall to become a foolish tweenage again (read; been there, done that). I have no time for petty squabbles about who got what in what but this type of behaviour is ripe in academia; another prime showing of the inability any of us have to really grow up.
Taking Risks is an Adventure (But Sometimes so is Staying Close to Home)
I sometimes like to think I am like Belle; standing in a field, watching the world in awe and belting out inspirational lines like “I want adventure in the great, wide somewhere.” I want to see the world, explore every avenue I can and take all the risks…. but I’ve learned the importance of also making wise and calculated choices in these madcap Disney Princess ideals that exist inside my head. I am calculated, callous and sometimes carefree and college choices have thought me to take a step back and consider my path before running off into the unknown. In terms of my own internship, I lept towards the biggest name I could before i could consider what my role would actually consist of. I learned alot during my time living in the middle of nowhere but I could have better spent them 6 months really developing skills that I was more interested in.
The Call to Arms is Never True (Aka Your Path in Life is Always Going to be Unclear)
I am always jealous of people who have real life action plans for their lives. I envy their dedication to the life ambitions, their detailed 5/10/15 year plans and their want to live life on a certain route. As I leave academia (for now) and wander the outside world, I realise most of these “plans” are a load of bull. Employment is fickel today and with access to education, information and a higher pay grade, people move careers as easy as they change their cars. Whereby in our past generations, a career ment 40+ years of scrounging through the same type of industry (usually manual), we’re now a world of career and path altering beings. Roles are versatile, careers are widespread, the internet makes it easy to work from anywhere in the world and do just about any job with the click of a button; the “lifelong” career path seems but a distant memory in the eyes of our parents (though many just don’t understand that for some of us, the answer to “what do you want to do with your life?” remains unclear even into our late 20s)
Individuality isn’t Dead, it’s Just Hiding Behind Conformity.
I am never afraid of standing out from a crowd. As shy, reserved and panicky as I am, I never let it phase me and am not afraid to allow my individuality shine through. I like being different. I always have. Be it my clothes, my hair or the language and style of my presenting capabilities I think being different is fun and really makes you stand out in academia. Sadly, akin to primary and secondary school, many fear embracing their kookier sides in college because it’s not the “done” thing. My advice? Labels are for boxes, following is for sheep. I’m sure your tiresome educators will relish an essay topic with a twist or a presentation that doesn’t look like it’s been dragged out of 8 Simple Rules For Creating a Generic Presentation Layout. (This one’s for my Social Marketing lecturer who only adored my “stick-it-to-the-man” study topics)
Keep Your Friends Close and Your Lecturers Closer
I attended a relatively small and close-nit Institute of Technology and I don’t think I ever would have enjoyed my college education any other way. Being 1 in 200 in a gigantic lecture hall makes you another number on a lecturer’s roll-book, small colleges allow you to really build relationships with your educators that will change the face of your education. In my 4 years in WIT, I’ve gotten the chance to really communicate with several of my lecturers and these people have become educational and life role models for me. When time got tough, particularly in final year and through losing my dad, my lecturers provided me with support; making sure I was always on top of my assignments and that I really understood what was being taught even when my mind was 100 miles away in anxiety land. I really hope to stay in touch with these small few who have really done their best to shape me over the last 4 years.
What did you take away from your college experiences?