When Dr. Charles Eliot an educator at Harvard was asked how Harvard had gained its’ prestige as the greatest storehouse of knowledge in the nation he replied,” In all likelihood it is because the freshmen bring us so much of it, and the seniors take away so little.”
That may be a truer statement than many would like to believe. You are truly not fish or fowl after that first year at college.
What it takes to get into a ‘good’ college today is unbelievable. The competition is fierce, let alone the cost.
You just never know what the institution is looking for to round out a class and diversify it. Then there is the issue of legacy and money. All adding up to fierce competition and a lot of disappointment. It is a strange business and nerve racking for the student and their families.
The truth of the matter is that I believe a curious, hardworking, good student can thrive and get what they need from a wide variety of educational experiences. The thing about college, and especially a liberal arts background is that it gives you a cultural expansion. College also lets you experience a wide range of people and ideas.
But most importantly, it helps you define yourself.
You are on your own; you make your own decisions, both good and bad.
You have friends who may be like you or from different backgrounds which can expand your horizons. All great.
You learn about being accepted, being popular, finding new skills and a big issue; your sexuality.
This is where many young people try on alternative behaviors and come into their own in this most important area.
Many discover they are able to act out their impulses and attractions. Indeed, many claim their homosexuality or transgender leanings at this time. They are free of parents and all that they have grown up with.
The heterosexuals can act out their desires in a variety of ways and do.
Now after that first year, there is a boomerang effect.
The student goes ‘home’ again.
The camaraderie of friends around all the time, the ‘love’ object, the decision making, and the parents asking questions and setting rules is a BIG jolt.
Seeing old friends will take on different feelings and adjustment. Seeing old boyfriends or girlfriends will not be the same as before.
It will all need to be emotionally worked through.
You are not fish or fowl. You are not a child and not yet an adult.
In a sense, it is the best of times because it’s all fun and no real grown-up responsibility. Well, yes, you need to study and have exams and that stuff but you don’t need to earn a living and support yourself… yet!
It seems young men have a longer growth period to maturity. They really don’t get there these days until almost thirty, for the most part.
Young females seem to have less of a struggle.
When kids go home for summer after that first year they revert to being twelve years old again. The parents take care of them; laundry, meals, money and so on. It is always the same even when you are fifty! The old patterns stay there and we all want to ‘please’ our parents. However, with all of it, you have to buck them, challenge their ideas and life, in order to be your own person, in your own generation. If they come on too strong you have to fight harder and be stronger. You have to suffer their disapproval for a while, and maybe forever, BUT it is necessary for you to be whatever you are to become. Tell them I said so!!!
In the end, the college experience will be a learning one and in ways that you never expected…. Enjoy!!
“A college education is one of the few things a person is willing to pay for and not get.” – William Lowe Bryan