Choose not to let college rule your life


This past weekend I made my fifth college visit. At fifteen I have visited Hope, Grand Valley, West Michigan University, Meredith Manor, and this weekend, Lee University. Many other high school students may see this as a good thing. Many would see me as lucky. Lucky that I have had opportunities to see colleges and universities already as a sophomore. But I don’t see it that way. I see it as college trying its best to rule me.

This weekend at Lee I expected to be surrounded by juniors and seniors and was shocked to find that many of the visitors were sophomores and even freshman. So many young students who have yet to adjust to the high school life they would be living for the next four years, already looking forward to college. Essentially skipping over some of the most important developmental years of their lives. What is it doing to my classmates to make so much of their high school career focused on making it into “appropriate” colleges?

Our high school is riddled with issues in large part due to the attention put on getting into university. When a young adult’s primary developmental years are spent under extreme pressure, the end result is quite the opposite of a diamond. Instead, we get students with a vast range of issues who base their self-worth on a set of numbers and letters.

To feel no pressure about grades and college is to be on the outside. The few lucky students who have been taught that their college will not define them feel out of place. I’ve been blessed with parents who have not placed the pressure of college on me heavily. However, even then there is no escaping it because of how our school and my fellow students see it.

Many people don’t seem to realize that high school and college are only a few years and after that follows a lifetime. And school isn’t going to teach you some of the things you’ll need to be successful in life after school. You’ll need to be able to balance yourself and take care of yourself. Two things very low on students’ radars because they are too focused on preparing for college.

My fourth college visit wasn’t to the type of college people normally think of. Meredith Manor is a career college. Meaning that the college is solely based on training people for one field of work. The set up of Meredith Manor was like every other college I’ve been to. Dorms, dining halls, classrooms– your typical college campus. But there were some glaring differences. For instance, Meredith Manor doesn’t have impossibly high standards for admittance. It prepares students for the real world without jacking up their stress and anxiety levels about admittance.

As the end of my sophomore year draws near, and I, along with the rest of my class, prepare for junior year, I think it’s important to keep in mind all of the other aspects of life. Change in our world is very slow to come. The stress put on college isn’t going to dissipate during our high school careers, and maybe not ever in our lifetimes. But personal change is possible. You can decide for yourself not to let college rule you.