Make the college experience your own

Michelle Poje

Ah, ’tis the season for senior columns.

Nothing is more touching than a passel of fresh-faced, 22-year-olds spouting out wisdom and advice as though they’ve suddenly morphed into a gang of gray-haired grandfathers. As seniors who have weathered four years of immature roommates, crazy professors and ulcer-inducing stress, we feel it’s our duty to educate the younger students on the highs and lows of college life in 550 words, no more. Our goal: to help the younger students obtain the best college experience.

Which is why I absolutely despise senior columns.

The majority of my college experience was determined by advice that other people gave me regarding where to go to school, where to live and what to do. And looking back, I really wish those people would have all just kept their advice to themselves. Because college is about learning how to make your own way – not about others doing it for you.

When I graduated from high school in 2001, I had the goal of going to Kent State Stark for two years and then commuting to the main campus in an effort to save money and work during the week. My party-hungry pal, bound for the Ohio State University, literally snored in my face when I told her of my plans.

“You need the college experience,” she exclaimed. “You need to get out of your parent’s house and live.”

So I moved into a single room on campus, eager to explore this college experience everyone was talking about, and to live, which, apparently, I was incapable of doing off-campus. The advice continued.

One friend urged me to get a minor, because “minors look good on resumes.” I wore myself out pursuing a minor in English until my one of my advisers looked at me and said, “What the hell are you getting an English minor for?” My response was silence. I had no idea.

I was then bugged to join clubs and go to parties and “get drunk at least once.” I hate the whole drinking scene, but threw a party in my dorm, knocked back a couple of drinks and spent the remainder of the evening with my head over the toilet while fellow on-lookers snapped blackmail pictures of me. Not exactly the image I cared to have. Or the “experience,” for that matter.

Looking back, the advice I received actually ended up doing me more harm than good. I spent more money than I wanted on a dorm I didn’t need and wasted two semesters taking classes for a minor I didn’t want. I often look back at the past four years and see a college experience my friends wanted me to have, rather than the one I wanted for myself.

So as a grizzled, old senior, my advice is simple: Spend college doing what you want to do. Major in the field you want to, live in the place you want to and make your own decisions. Don’t feel you have to attend an ivy league school to get the best education or live in a co-ed dorm to see what college life “is really like.” Make the experience your own – you’ll enjoy yourself a whole lot more.

Michelle Poje is a senior newspaper journalism major and a columnist for the Daily Kent Stater. Contact her at [email protected].