College In Reality

Welcome to a world full of sleepless nights, endless responsibilities, and
computerized solitaire. Welcome to the land where coffee beans reign and Vivarin
rules. Welcome to college. “Youve been here before. Sure you have…”
“Needful Things” -Stephen King This may not be the case with everyone, but I
know that when I was in high school, college was my ultimate dream. Unlike most
of my peers, high school never held that special sentimental enchantment for me
as it did for them. I didnt display any noticeable increase in school spirit
during my final year out of respect for what would soon become my alma mater.

For example, I didnt request a single person to sign my yearbook, I didnt
order extra copies of the senior class picture to adorn the walls of every room
I ever intend to occupy with, and not a single tear was shed at graduation.

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Spirit Week, a time of social union, pep rallies, and ridiculous clothing that
was somehow meant to show support for a football team who hadnt won a section
in over a decade, was looked upon with the usual apprehension, but with a sense
of quiet anticipation. I was ready for the big time, college, where every day
would be a new experience in freedom, and every night would be a new experience
in alcoholism. It wasnt until I actually got to college that Reality decided
to give me one of the swiftest kicks to the nether quarters that I have ever
experienced in my life. I was finally in the “Real World”. Throughout my
years in public education, there always seemed to be someone to look after my
best interests. There was always a mother or a father to wake me up for school
on time, and to provide me with lunch money. They were always there to help me
with my homework (until I reached about eighth grade and even they didnt have
a clue), and, of course, to put me back in line when they thought I was out of
it. There were always teachers who assured me that what they were teaching would
be of endless value to me throughout the rest of my life, and would surely help
me in college. Questions such as “What does the child, Pearl, symbolize in
Nathaniel Hawthornes novel, “The Scarlet Letter?”” may very well be
asked during a job interview someday, and that the Quadratic Formula would
indeed become a part of my everyday life. Looking back now, it makes me wonder
if they had ever actually been to college themselves. During my first semester
of college, when faced with the fifty-seven hours of homework to be completed in
forty-eight, or the first Calculus chapter that was “undoubtedly a review for
those students who had already completed a course in Pre-Calculus during high
school” (a chapter that made about as much sense to me as Arabic script); one
question constantly reoccurred in my mind: When was I ever prepared for all of
this? Throughout high school, the period of my life intended to orient more then
any other around preparing me for college, the teachers who thought themselves
to be lenient and considerate in their ways, were really depriving the student
body of vital knowledge and experience. Teachers never forced us into budgeting
our time, they never pressured the students who really cared about their grades
into asking for help by keeping a rigorous homework schedule, and tests were
never first and final. While they were doing us a favor by grading on a curve,
offering extensions for late reports, and allowing homework to be turned in
late, they were really misleading us in one of the worst possible ways. How many
first semester college students would one think has spent countless nights
staying up until four or five oclock in the morning trying to understand that
last bit of Calculus? How many have gone over twenty-four hours without sleeping
at all to finish that five page thesis that was assigned just four days ago
along with a million other assignments? I speak from experience when I say that
Ive had more sleepless nights engaged in such activities than I care to
remember, or care to ever have again. Every teacher I had in high school was
excellent in his or her own unique way, they taught the material to the best of
their ability, and while some may have been a bit overbearing, they always made
exceptions. Each individual instructor had at least an iota of sympathy for a
student who was willing to try and therefore the occasional lenient alternative
was given. All I am asking is for teachers to do their students a favor and be a
little bit of a hard ass just once, if for no other reason than to allow their
students a taste of what pursuing an education after high school is like. I
would be the first to recognize the consequences of such a controversial
proposition as this. It may potentially insult the average high school teacher
by critiquing his or her method of instruction. If a high school student ever
read this, I would almost surely be beaten mercilessly by several masked
assailants in some dark alleyway or parking lot. Just a few months ago I was a
high school student, and knowing what I know now about college, I would have
been exceedingly grateful for such an opportunity. Many a long lecture did I
receive, courtesy of my parents, regarding the sad truth of what college life
would truly be like, but I could never really appreciate it until I had
experienced it for myself. College is not all fun and games. Learning that vital
piece of information on your own is definitely not an easy task, but unless
things change, the hard way is the only way that lesson will ever be learned.


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