By Melissa Stefanec
College is the sort of experience that’s ripe for reminiscing. Not all of the memories are worth replaying, but the good ones are what nostalgia is made of.
The thing about college that makes it so invaluable is the number of unique experiences it offers simultaneously. For most of us, it’s unlikely we will have access to such a diversity of experience and growth opportunities again.
Here are some of the things that make college a time of great growth — educationally and personally.
If you have a few moments for precocious reflection today, be thankful you can do the following:
• Make your own schedule —Although some progressive employers offer flexible work arrangements, most working people don’t get to be the master of their own schedules. Being able to (mostly) decide on how early or late your classes and activities take place is a luxury.
• Take advantage of a dedicated developer — Your teachers have one job, and that’s to teach you. When you’re out in the professional world, you will not have access to such singular attention. Of course, you will have great managers and mentors, but “growing you” will account for a fraction of their efforts. Use your dedicated developers wisely.
• Have access to human diversity — When you look around campus, there are so many people who, on the surface, seem nothing like you. From race, to religion, creed, background and income brackets, your upbringings may seem as metaphorically dissimilar as oil and water. However, you’re all working toward the same end goal, personal growth. In college, you can discover how truly similar we all are by spending time with people who aren’t like you. Break down the barriers and don’t waste this opportunity.
• Enjoy a personal chef —The dining hall chefs may have some mixed reviews, but having hot meals made by someone else is a treat. Having so much variety is a novelty. Having people cater to your dietary needs and preferences is a luxury. The dining halls may not always get five stars on Yelp but try to appreciate them for what they are.
• Participate in clubs and organizations — Sure, there are volleyball leagues and trivia teams at local taverns, but you will not have access to hundreds of free, local organizations after college. Whether you live for athletics, volunteerism, activism or camaraderie, college offers a wealth of extra-curricular opportunity. Seize it.
• Have a career coach — The office of Career Services at SUNY Oswego has a definitive vision: “to help [students] explore, identify, and successfully compete for careers which match their personal and professional goals.” Whether you’re searching for help with networking, interviewing, resumes, grad school guidance, identifying a major/minor or actually finding a job, Career Services has you covered. When you enter the professional circuit, these services aren’t free. Spend your time wisely.
• Sleep in — Most adult professionals don’t get to sleep in. Pushing through exhaustion to get through the daily grind is one of the harder parts of adulting. Relish in your ability to sleep late when you need to. This same logic applies to sick days. Be thankful for having time to rest.
• Have plenty of time for friends — As a professional, it becomes harder to make time for friends. It becomes even harder if you choose to start a family. As adults, most people still see their friends, but not half as much as they might like to. It also becomes harder to forge deep friendships as an adult. In college, you can talk about big things into the wee hours of the morning. Most people go through their college days with their friends in tandem, whether it’s walking to class, studying or just hanging out. Not to get too preachy and sappy, but friendship and time are precious gifts.
• Learn without producing — You have one true job in college, and that is to learn. You may assemble tacos or sandwiches on the side to make a little money, but escaping the assembly line is why you’re pursuing higher education. While you’re in college, you don’t have to produce anything to earn a paycheck. You may produce research papers or class projects, but they are all means to a singular pursuit: your education. You’re not answering to a boss or doing what you have to do to earn your salary. All of your efforts are advancing your knowledge and growth. That focus on growth, instead of production, may be the single best characteristic of college.