When people tell me, as they frequently do, to enjoy the “best” years of my life while I’m in college, I tend to get a little annoyed. Deep down, I know that these well-meaning individuals are just reminiscing about their days of freedom from bills, families, the work force, and general responsibility, but as a current college student, I find their lectures disheartening.
Maybe I’m just an optimist, but I’d like to think that better days are yet to come. To be clear, this is certainly not to say that I don’t love Augustana; so far, my time here has been unforgettable. I’ve made friends and memories on this campus that I will always cherish. When my time to graduate comes, though, I think I will be ready to move forward.
College is a time devoted to helping us gracefully transition from childhood to the real world. It is, in essence, the awkward adolescent period of our adult lives. Why, then, is it so revered?
Our four years of undergraduate studies lack permanence. We move from dorms to apartments or houses every year, switching roommates and contracts as we go. Just when we’re finally getting used to our class schedules, a new semester commences and the chaos begins anew.
Clearly, we can handle the constant change, but it will be nice to advance into a world that is at least slightly more consistent. After all, packing all of your worldly possessions into the trunk of a car is really only exciting once.
Additionally, having next to no spare money is a collegiate dilemma apparently forgotten by those who have long since departed the dorms. Taking a full course load leaves little room for even part-time jobs.
Even if we can manage to satisfactorily balance school and work, we’re typically paid around $7.25 an hour (which, according to my English major calculations, is about enough to buy a tank of gas and some inexpensive groceries each week). Is it really so much to hope that the best years of my life aren’t spent consuming Ramen at midnight while writing papers after work?
I understand how, looking back, our college years might represent a time of youth and freedom, but I sincerely hope that more than a lack of responsibility will define the “best” years of our lives. Our college years are undeniably fun, but I still will not be devastated to see them go.
When I come back to Augie for Viking Days in 50 years, I hope to be able to say that this campus is not where the best years of my life happened, but where they began.