Going Away to College, At Home

Going Away to College, At Home

By Toni McDowell

Traditionally, going away to college is supposed to be the beginning of a new and exciting chapter in your life. The one where you leave behind old friends to make new ones in new places. It is supposed to be the end of your life at home with your parents and siblings and the beginning of waiting in line for a shower in the dorm. But for me, college which is so commonly thought of as a beginning, was actually an ending. It was just the continuance of my academic life. It seems as if I have merely switched schools. Especially since I still live at home.

The beginning of college signaled the end of my social life because all of my friends have gone away to college. Consequently, I don’t have anyone to hang out with. While we still communicate every day, we cannot meet up at the movies or go to the mall or simply enjoy each other’s company. So, now I do a lot of things by myself. There is nothing wrong with having solitude every now and again, but it does get boring.

At the beginning of my senior year I visited Ohio University and I instantly fell in love. It was the first university that I visited and actually liked. I loved everything about the campus from the picturesque architecture to the dining hall. I just knew that this was the college for me and that I would be attending OU in the fall. Unfortunately, life happens and I was unable to attend OU. This broke my heart as I realized that I would be attending the University of Akron.

This was the last place that I wished to be. I had had enough of The University of Akron. Since the sixth grade I’ve participated in academic achievement programs that kept me on the campus during the academic year and during the summer. I never even thought of UA as an option for me. In my head, attending The University of Akron was failure.

I am an Akron native, so my goal in life has always been to get out of Akron, and go away to college because to stay here meant that I have accomplished nothing. Especially since my three best friends were going away to Ohio State and Bowling Green University. I knew that if I attended UA that I would have to stay at home and that was another downfall to attending UA. I wanted to get out of my mother’s house.

College also signaled the end of any lazy attitudes that have followed me from high school. From the brisk walks across campus to be on time for class, to the last minute studying habits that I have acquired throughout high school. You have to want to work hard in college and you have to want more for yourself. In college your professors and your counselors will offer to help you but none of them will force you to learn like your teachers in high school may have done. In college you have to go out and find your own help if you are struggling especially since the way that you learn in college is so different. In college you do not have time to stay on the same chapter for an entire week or ask numerous questions that hold up the class. Your professors will not pull you aside and offer to tutor you, they get paid whether you learn or not. In high school there were people in place to hold your hand and guide you through school. In college, not so much, while there are people in place to help you, your education is truly in your own hands and it is up to you how well you do. For example in college you can make your own schedule and even pick your own classes. So if you are like me and are not a morning person you will schedule your classes for a later time and not 8 o’clock in the morning because you will want to be able to get the maximum value out of your education. In high school you are assigned a certain class and teacher, at a certain time from 8 o’ clock in the morning until 4 o’clock in the afternoon. In high school your teachers know you by your name. In college, you are lucky if your professor even remembers your face! That is the end of the student-teacher personal relationship that you have in high school.

College also made me reevaluate my life completely. It made me question some of the friendships that I had. I began to ask myself questions such as “How are these people benefitting me?” and “What exactly do they plan on doing with their life?” Simply asking myself these questions made me end several friendships with people that I still love and care for.

College is also the end of who is the most popular, who is the best dressed, who has the prettiest eyes, etc. All of those things that once meant the most to you in high school no longer matter in college. No one cares who you are, what you wear, what office position you held in high school. You are now just another grain of sand on the beach.

College is also the end of any unstructured time. Every minute has to be used constructively especially if you have a job. If you do not use your time wisely then you will fall behind and everything will suffer. You will find yourself stressing about the minutest things and rushing every second of the day. While college is more rigorous than high school, if you structure your time wisely you will be just fine.

The most important end of all was the end of free things. Nothing in college is free, everything is paid for. From your transportation fees to using the college libraries, everything has a cost while in high school it did not. At least there was not a direct charge to the student. You were able to use the library, computers and receive lunch all free of charge to the student. There are no tuition and fees at a public high school.

So for me no, college was not a beginning it was the end of a wonderful carefree life that I was living. I have no friends to hang out with, no one to keep me on track and tons more of responsibility. It is because I never wanted to attend UA and my desire was to attend Ohio University that I feel this way. It is because all my friends have left me and I feel alone. It is also because I still live at home with my mom.  It is also because I was not ready to grow up and college threw too much responsibility on me at once.

Whatever the reason, college is not a bright beginning for me. It is the overwhelming bitter end of life. I no longer have time for free time, friendships or anything else that I used to enjoy. Now I am forced to grow up and take responsibility for everything that I do. I have longer study hours and more homework than I have ever had before. While there are many opportunities in college everything costs money and everything is also more expensive.  It is not easy for me to get into the swing of things in college as I have done so flawlessly for the past 13 years of my academic life. The learning style is so different in college. It is almost as if you are teaching yourself.

Everyone believes that college is the beginning of a young person’s life. It is also a common belief that it is the most exciting time of a person’s life as well. I strongly believe that it is not however. When you attend college be prepared to be in for a rude awakening, especially if you are attending a college that you have been involved with since a young age and if you are living with your parents still as well. There are no more people in place to hold your hand or baby you everything is up to you. College is not fun, nor enjoyable. It is the end of your life as you have known it.