By Joseph Gonzalez
Many see college as a step to the next part of their lives towards adulthood. And it is. But college is also a new world that broadens our experience of the world. The shift from a sheltered life to a broadened college perspective can prepare you for true self-expression and for career and life in a way that classes alone cannot.
My college perspective
I came from a house that didn’t 100% shelter me but which also didn’t encourage me to socialize either. In my middle school and high school years, I was content with playing video games all day, and not going out with friends. it’s safe to say my social skills weren’t up to par with others at that point.
When I got to college, my mind was blown. I never fully grasped how different people’s upbringings were. Whereas high school had more of a clique mentality, college is more of a free-for-all… in a good way. You’re able to roam and do as you please without a care of being judged. I realized that I could actually be myself, and so could everyone else.
Recognizing your identity
Studies have shown that college students can retain their previous identities before going to college. Chapter Four of the third issue of Student Development in College: Theory, Research, and Practice discusses the different identities someone can have when going into college. A “material identity” pertains to what they have and where they come from. In that sense, where we live and our social status among peers prior to college could affect someone’s mindset going into college. Once we are there, we don’t have to conform to that anymore. The social standards set by pre-college education don’t apply anymore.
College: The unifying denominator
Some people think that college is something that brings us together.
“Someone’s background doesn’t define that moment,” NJ native and college student named James said. “It was more unifying for me more than anything else. The lines between differences kind of just disappeared after high school.”
James had no problems with fitting in during high school. He sees college as a place where anyone can be accepted, despite where he personally came from—a place where people were still were able to express themselves.
Someone who could have been seen as an “outcast” or “jock” in high school turns out to be just like everyone else.
“Most people I knew couldn’t wait to get away to college from high school,” a college student named Franklin said.
Preparing for a college perspective
The consensus seems to be universal that high school and college students have completely different mindsets. Because of this, not all people may be easily integrated into college as easily as others. Books such as the Teens’ Guide to College & Career Planning can be used to think of ways to transition into higher education and offer a perspective on what college can be like. The Teen’s Guide has advice from people of all ages, ranging from middle school to adulthood, talking about college-related issues such as the year-gap option, which is taking an extended period of time off before going to college.
One method for integrating into college can be as simple as asking those who have already been there. See how their high school experience was, and how their college experience was. Compare it to your experience, and judge for yourself how different college could for you.
These methods can help ease into the beginning of the college experience. But the fact is, it will most likely be easier to integrate in college than in high school. Obviously, the academic part is more difficult, but from a social side, there is more opportunity to be accepted for who you are.
Perspective: The hidden wisdom of college
The reason people go to college is to move forward in life. But it’s also a learning experience that will mold people from what they already were into what they can become. Prepare for your career, but at the same time become who you’ve always wanted to be, no matter who that is. Even though we are all different, we are all the same.
Are you or your favorite student having anxiety about the college integration process? Maybe you’re seeking your life path or career and are curious how your self-expression and life experiences fit into your broader goals. Contact Danielle today for a discovery consult and see how Mind Key can help you find the right tools to foster a sense of peace during transition, and build a career doing what you love.