Senior Column: Onward
After I graduated high school, I got a summer job painting houses with a guy who coached me in basketball. His name is Brian, and I remember how jealous he was that summer because I was going to be a freshman in college.
He would talk about all of his past glories and how much fun he had at Millersville University when he was around my age. He would remind me how lucky I was to be starting this four-year journey of minor responsibility and major recklessness. But he always ended the conversation, which we had a lot that summer, with “it goes so fast.”
At the time, I didn’t know if he was saying that statement in a reflective way, thinking about how fast his time at college went, or if it was a warning — a caution that would be more valuable than any paycheck he would give me.
With graduation less than two weeks away, I think I know how Brian meant it. During my four years of college, I experienced an older brother’s final years at Kutztown University and his graduation. I saw my younger brother move through high school before starting his college experience last semester at West Chester University. I noticed the excitement that older siblings, cousins, parents, and friends try to contain when they visit Penn State. For a weekend, they have no cares or worries — just a few beers to crack and a hungover trip back to the real world on Sunday.
Some may even argue that college goes too fast. But those are the people who are leaving with regrets. So if there’s any corny or cliché advice I can give you it’s this: experience everything. Try not to hurt yourself or others along the way, but have some fun. Have a lot of fun. Make mistakes and make up for them. College is a time of personal growth. Find yourself and be yourself. And once you graduate, hold on to the young-adult curiosity that prompted you to ask questions and soak up new information. Preserve that carefree spirit that prolonged every party and bar tab.
I think leaving college is so difficult because people reject the idea of balancing more serious responsibilities with fewer opportunities to have a good time. Just because I’m writing about it doesn’t mean I will be able to do it with ease. I’ll struggle with it. For people that attend college, it’s one of life’s intimidating transitions. And even though I’m not as excited as I was that summer before college, I’m still ready for the transition. Acknowledging how immense it is won’t save you from it (commenters behave).
I agree with Brian. College does go so fast. But that’s what makes college a memorable life experience. You can either complain about how fast it flies by, or you can try your damnedest to keep up with it.
And when you reach the end…onward.
Oh, and in case you ever wondered – it’s Christ as in “Christmas” not “Jesus Christ.”