“Just get it over with.” A five-word sentence used for the flu shot or jury duty. But instead of waiting an hour in a waiting room, I had to wait years to get this over with: college.
“I chose UCR ‘cause it gave me the most financial aid,” 85 percent of freshmen will declare. “But it’s rising in the ranks. It’s still a UC. It’s still better than Merced,” is what most will convince themselves of. I wasn’t buying it. Four years ago and a bitter freshman, I walked across campus, in the middle of bum-fuck nowhere, to join the rest of the UC Rejects. I found so many other students who shared the same disappointment going from the dream school to the safety school.
Some students will admit to not having a clue of what they want to do with their life, while others think they have it all planned out. We enter with a major we think will appease the world: engineering, sociology and even business. Majors and degrees we know will get us good jobs and make that baby-boomer generation pleased with us. But we all go through that same crisis when the blueprint our parents or guardians planned out does not go to plan. That headache when we just can’t get into the material like everyone else, that cold sweat when we realize that the plan isn’t for us and that shaky knee when we tell our parents it is not what we want.
High school was like a four-year audition for college. We do the best we can to get into the best school possible. But then we end up here. It is then that we need to consider this: College is an audition for life. We shouldn’t have to plan our life to fit another’s expectations. If you sit in that environmental science class with more joy than engineering ever brought you, think about how the rest of your career will be. If the only thing that perks your ears up in that sociology class is that random dude in the back talking about his creative writing class, think about your options — because that is exactly what college gives us.
They say things happen for a reason. When you find your passion, you’ll find what’s worth the hair-pulling and all-nighters at the end of the day too. Sitting in the first class after that major change, or attending the first meeting to that club you never thought you’d stumble upon may be that reason. Finding the people who will share your journey and maybe even becoming part of theirs — no, not just for networking purposes — but to create the life that you will lead when the time is up.
Four years later, I look back on that bitter freshman and the first steps she took to bum-fuck nowhere. I think about the first person who told me to find something I truly enjoy to make UCR worth it all. And I sit here and think of the things I have done, the bonds I have created and the memories I will take. I hope everyone can do the same and think about what UCR has given them. Because once you get it over with, you just ask yourself, “Now what?”