It’s the Friday before fall break. By now, most everyone has gotten into their cars, boarded planes and made the trek home.
For the freshmen, it’s the first time you’ve been home for any extended period of time since you gained your independence just a few months ago. Time to put the bottles away, hide the tattoos and pretend you are the perfect angel your parents always thought you were.
The reality is, we’re not perfect angels. We’re human beings.
College is, for many of us, a time to explore who we are, find what we like and don’t like, and try the things we’ve been saying “No!” to since the D.A.R.E. officers visited our schools so long ago.
I think this frightens most parents; the thought that these beings they raised since birth are out of their control and experimenting with life for the first time. I say that this is what college is all about!
Are we na/ve enough to think that college is all about books, classes and how many times a semester you can wake-up for that 8 a.m. class? What it’s really about is what you are doing between classes.
When I was a freshman (which seems like so long ago), some friends and me were discussing the Clinton and Lewinsky scandal. I mentioned how horrible it was that our president could do something so despicable, and in the Oval Office!
One of the friends I was sitting with was African and taught me more about the world than any book I’ve opened since being at this university. He looked at me and said, “What he did really wasn’t that bad.”
My mouth dropped to the floor. “What do you mean not that bad? What worse thing could he have done?”
“Well, my president committed genocide. Two million of my people are dead because of my president.” Kinda puts things in perspective, doesn’t it?
I wouldn’t have learned that in Brighton, Colo., the town from which I graduated from high school. Not that I’m dismissing what was happening under the desk of the most powerful man in the world, but being in an environment where ideas could be explored and discussed provided me the opportunity to learn.
It was passing out in the lobby of the ninth floor in Westfall Hall, having proselytizers tell me daily that I’m going to hell and the Wall of Despair (otherwise known as the Justice For All “abortion exhibit”) appear on the plaza that really made the college experience.
Without these things, I wouldn’t have had the opportunity to learn about others, to learn about the world and, most importantly, to learn about myself.
So as we all head back home this week, talk to your parents, talk to you families, about what you learned in college. Tell them about the people you’ve met, the experiences you’ve had and maybe that one time you passed out in the Westfall ninth floor lobby.
Tell them about who you are, what you want to become and what you really think. College is about discourse. Continue those discussions at home; forget about the classroom for a little bit.
Most of all, grow. Learn. Explore. The world is your oyster, whatever that means. Crack it open, dig deep and find that pearl. No matter how it turns out, just remember that college is here waiting for you when you get back, and so is that bottle you hid away in your sock drawer.