College is a platform for growth, enjoy the ride

Published by adviser, Author: Dan Gladis, Date: December 4, 2014
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For those of you who know me, I am graduating after a brief 3.5 years in just a few days. For those who do not know me, you may also know that because I have been shouting my impending exit from the rooftops. Though looking forward to post-undergraduate life with the typical mix of excitement and fear, now is also an excellent time to reflect on some of the things I have learned about Slippery Rock and myself along the way.

When I came to Slippery Rock as a nervous freshman in late August 2011, the first thing I did was lock my ID and key in my room. I had screwed up within the first 10 minutes of being a college student, and classes hadn’t even started yet. Though initially I thought this was a bad omen, instead, I now see that as a lesson. In college, you don’t have to be perfect. And yeah, you screw up sometimes. Big deal. You’ve got the rest of your life to pretend to be perfect to peers and family you may or may not actually like, so why not take these few golden years to be who you are. Do you even know who you are? The secret is, nobody really does – some die without ever finding that out, others realize quite late in life.

When I arrived in Slippery Rock, I knew I wanted to be a history professor at a major research university. I knew who I was, and I knew where I was going. While I am generally on track to achieve that goal, I have also used this collegiate experience to open my minds to career fields outside the original niche I wished to occupy. I added a second major in cultural studies and a minor in philosophy, and, as every major news outlet will inform you, I probably did not choose those fields because the raft of cushy middle-class jobs that would be coming my way immediately after graduation. But, something important I’ve learned in college, is that the university experience one acquires at a liberal arts institution like Slippery Rock, is not job training.

So what, then, is the college experience if it really isn’t a beast designed to spit you out into the world to immediately get a specific job you trained for specifically by getting a specific degree? Or, what is the meaning or purpose of college? I don’t know. That’s up for each person to decide for themselves. Don’t let me or anyone else tell you how exactly you should think. But if you’re interesting in entertaining more ideas, I would tell you college is a platform for growth. You can take advantage of its resources, or not. You can take advantage of class and extracurricular opportunities, or not. You can take every action possible to learn and grow as a person and citizen, or not. The choice is yours. I chose to take advantage of as much as I could in my 3.5 years here. If you’re a freshman and reading this, I would implore you to do the same. In the meantime, too – don’t forget to enjoy the ride. I know you’ve all heard this repeated ad nauseam, but it truly flies by far too quickly. In the meantime, good luck. We all need it.

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