Beyond the Admissions brochure-worthy grandeur of lush campus lawns and sporting events, college is really just one big reminder of how much you don’t know.
There are the classrooms you can’t find, a library full of books you’ll never read and hundreds of faces passing by belonging to strangers you’ll never meet. And in a cruel twist of fate, there are multiple-choice tests that remind you that even when the answer is right in front of you, it’s possible to still be clueless.
The fact of the matter is that people don’t really expect the 18-year-old you to know anything. For the majority of four years, you are treated as a toddler roaming the streets of the adult world and provided with a nannie affectionately known as a resident assistant and an ID card that helps people return you to your owner should you get lost.
Much of the highly-touted orientation week on a college campus is spent re-explaining things that were second nature in elementary school.
“If you hear a fire alarm, exit the building.”
“Don’t go anywhere without a buddy.”
“If you misbehave, we WILL call your parents!”
To most professors and community residents, college students are human receptacles for alcohol and drugs who sometimes successfully regurgitate study guide material in between cheers for the home team and catcalls. And yet, when you’re unleashed upon adult society at the end of four (or five…or six…) years, you’re expected to have something to contribute. Something that goes beyond a piece of paper with your degree stamped on it and an incredible tolerance for hard liquor.
The college experience is advertised as four years of somewhat contained mistake-making that happens to end with a graduation ceremony. It’s almost universally accepted that college is a time for fun. A time when we’re allowed to be sheeple travelling in packs to the dining hall, the stadium, the bars. Best case scenario, you walk away with some killer stories for your future progeny and a few semi-respectable experiences to list on your resume.
But you have to wonder what college would be like if we, the young adults of the world, were expected to know things. If unabashedly adult information like the consequences of credit card debt and what it takes to raise a puppy, let alone a child, was common knowledge, instead of part of the disclaimer on your diploma.
College is an incredible phenomenon that 20-somethings across the country wish would never end. But it does end. And the question “what are you doing Friday night?” becomes “what are you doing for the rest of your life?”
It’d be nice if more of us had the answer.