So-called ‘college experience’ is relative

Brenna McNamara

My best friend in high school is an amazing artist. Painting murals all over our school’s walls, being voted “most artistic” and receiving amazing grades made her a shoe-in to the “best” graphic design school in the country that shares a campus with Brown University. Her success has unfortunately gone to her head. While she returns for breaks, I hear stories of her perfect college experience and how I am wasting my potential by going Kent State because I could make a brighter future for myself elsewhere.

I am so sick of the words “perfect college experience” because that phrase is so relative. No matter what success I have stumbled across here, around my friend I feel less worthy because I am not basking in the New England rays and lounging on a courtyard with witty millionaires.

This condescending attitude is something I have battled with for a long time. I attended a high school that concentrated on being accepted to a “respectable” college since sophomore year. I expected to end up in New York or Chicago, imagining some picture-perfect life, independent and away from my comfort zone and parents. By senior year, this picture began to crumble as I realized that my parents weren’t so keen on this idea and were going to make me attend a school close to home because of my rebellious nature and lackluster academic performance. I resented this because I was used to the preconceived notion that college isn’t college unless it’s 50 miles away.

But now that I am here I have realized there is no such thing as a “picture-perfect” college experience. Everyone experiences something entirely different than his or her neighbor. Commuters aren’t skipping some necessary once-in-a-lifetime experience – they have different priorities. Those who go home on the weekend might just be a few Facebook friends shorter. Those who talk to their significant others for two hours every night aren’t missing out on much more than a typical three-week college relationship. Their hearts simply lie elsewhere.

College does not have to consist of moving far away, grasping onto red cups and dating around. But if this is how personal happiness is found, go for it. Just realize there are others who can find independence and a sense of self without all that.

College is about education. Many are happy to scrounge money to attend school while living at home and some don’t even have the privilege to attend school until they are middle-aged.

My high school peers probably would’ve voted me most likely to be passed out face- first in the snow every weekend, but college brings unexpected occurrences. Those girls who shook their heads at alcohol and concentrated on grades are now the ones who can’t keep their drunken eyes open as they make that kiss face in Facebook party pictures, and here I am preaching about the importance of education.

Different personal experiences and revelations happen at different times for different people. Right now apparently isn’t my time to roam around New York City. While I am surrounded in all directions by rural fields and suburbia, there is also infinite knowledge at my disposal and I don’t need to pay $50,000 a year to absorb it all.

Brenna McNamara is a freshman pre-journalism major and columnist for the Daily Kent Stater. Contact her at [email protected].