Class of 2014
Perhaps nothing is more tantalizing and terrifying than the idea of living under your own responsibility – a tenuous independence between high school and a career. This is the essence of college: awe inspiring and yet utterly unnerving (especially if you start off the semester by stumbling over a chair and spilling your coffee everywhere). But while college is a far cry from any comfort zone, it will force you to grow and develop into yourself in the best ways, especially if you choose a college in an individual-emphasizing city, as I have with NYU.
It is obvious that college is very different from high school: teachers become professors, classes become lectures, and fire drills become an annoyance rather than a reason to miss class – even more so if you’re in the shower when it sounds. However, college is not as you may have seen it portrayed in the movies with obnoxious frat parties or sophisticated-seeming weeks of exams. My best comparison, in fact, would be to sleep-away camp, except instead of kayaking and crafts, you have naps and 150 pages to read for the second day of class for some cruel, cruel reason. The point is that when you’re in high school, college seems like some unfathomable other world, and granted, for the first week or so it may still feel like that. However, in time it will become part of the everyday and you will realize that you were more prepared and capable than you thought, as I did.
When my mom left me alone in my dorm for the first time – unpacked and overwhelmed – I sat there for a long while, perplexed by possibility and searching for answers within the class Facebook page, legitimately afraid to go outside. But with one semester under my belt –that semester passes faster than expected, as all things do – I am impassioned as I never have been before, falling in love with this city’s magnificence and even its desolation every day. College will do this: it will help you understand yourself as you understand your surroundings. It will give you the opportunity to choose a place that feels new and infinitely vibrant, as well as tailor your classes to your interests. This individualized experience is perhaps the greatest aspect of college – you treasure learning more when you are able to create your own education in a sense, both in the classroom and out of it.
I have learned firsthand about activism, philanthropy, and last but not least, the ruthlessness of New York drivers. I can tell you about sprinting 10 blocks in heels to catch a fashion show, or the kind man who brings buckets of soap, sticks, and string to wrap people in enormous bubbles in Washington Square Park. I have already garnered so many unique experiences and met so many extraordinary people. Even if you choose to commute or attend college close to home, there is something to be gained from the chance to start anew, to flourish as you abandon the familiar. College will test you, but it will also show you a new world exteriorly and within you, once you develop the confidence to embrace it. You will grow to appreciate the potential and instability of such a transition, and you will never know how you once functioned at 7 a.m.