As someone who recently started college, I have often heard people tell me that college is supposed to be the best four years of my life, and that, for this reason, I need to focus on enjoying it. But upon further reflection, this concept is really sad and, honestly, quite stupid. Frankly, if four years of communal bathrooms, people spamming the elevator alarm and a lack of air conditioning are going to be the best years of my life, then I must have a really depressing life ahead of me. Everyone views college as a time for parties, friends and overall fun, but we tend to lose sight of what college is really meant to be: an educational experience that sets us up for a happy, successful life, during which we enjoy every year of our lives as they come, rather than constantly looking back.
Fundamentally, viewing college as simply a fun time and the peak of existence is quite detrimental. If people focus too much on enjoying their experience, instead of focusing on what they’re supposed to get out of it, then college may really end up being their best years. In fact, the New York Post reported that “Approximately 44% of respondents of the OnePoll Survey – taken on behalf of Texas Tech University – said they want to try college again not because they disliked their first experience but because they didn’t learn enough vital life skills, such as banking or time management.” If we do college right and take advantage of the plethora of resources and opportunities available to us, truly preparing ourselves to leave college and create a successful life, then we can have decades of happiness. But if we instead focus on making these years our peak, we’ll leave with regret.
The issue with this view of college also lies in the fact that if people see college as their peak or the best years of their life, then they fundamentally have no incentive to work hard to prepare for their future. While the view that college is supposed to be the best four years of a person’s life is likely not held by all, in society there is a very large preface put on the enjoyment of the college experience over the personal development and career preparedness that could come of it. The existence of the term “party school” alone proves this societal view of college. Just the other day, while in a room full of people asked what should be on a University of Connecticut student’s bucket list, most people focused on fun events, sports and other things of that nature. The core idea that college should be a fun experience full of memories is not at all a bad thing, but it does cause people to put too much emphasis on these aspects of four years of their lives, instead of what should be their top priority: the aspects of college that set us up for a successful life. This by no means indicates that college shouldn’t be fun, and people should absolutely enjoy the experience, as long as the educational and developmental value that college provides is put first.
College should be less of an experience to be cherished because of freedom and parties, but more of a preparation stage in our lives for future happiness. If we all take advantage of this pivotal time, we can all find a career we love and create a stable enjoyable life where we look forward to every single day. This should be the end goal of college. The happiness of the future should come before the enjoyment of today.