It's spring! And you're probably getting ready for your first year of college. With the rising cost of tuition, the ever-present stories of the cafeteria food, and the fear of being locked out of your room for three hours while your roommate has his own little anatomy lab may strike fear into some about what college will be like. However, college is one of the best places to start your life off.
My first year of college was not the stuff of legends, so don't expect this to be a lesson-learned tale, but do take it as a guide to the most important lessons you'll ever learn in your life, or at least I think they will be.
The first thing you have to understand about the college experience is that it's like exercise. Once you start, people will be really happy that you want to better yourself, and if you stop people will be disappointed, but if you continue it just gets harder. Once you're done you look great, exercising is easy and everyone is jealous of your success. When I first started college I lived with five other guys and housing staff who would check the rooms to see if they were "safe." What I learned about this experience and the future experiences were as follows:
1) I had to learn how to interact with a number of different people. In high school you have your own little group that consists of people who share very similar ideas and personalities — cheerleaders on the right, goths to the left. But when you're living with totally random people you'll discover that you may have more in common with someone than you originally thought. Currently I live on campus and the people who became friends would not have been if this was high school. Two of my friends who are roommates, and close friends, were not originally friends; they merely knew of each other in high school and decided to room together. For the people who live at home, this experience is severely limited.
2) People do that? If you go to a college out of state, even out of town, you're going to experience things that you would never have experienced and you'll have the chance to learn how to navigate it; maybe you'll like it. I come from a rather conservative town were people were not friendly to strangers and the gay community was … not talked about. Upon arriving here in Ashland I was surprised at how open and accepting people were and it made me think; the people who never leave their home community will more than most see and expect the world to be the way they saw it growing up rather than a world with many different opinions.
3) Responsibility can be fun. Responsibility can be a huge pain, too, but let's look at the positives. For people living at home they'll probably not have to worry about rent, food, utilities, laundry and anything else you can think of but what's going to happen when they graduate and have to live on their own. Living on campus for the first year allows you to learn some major responsibility that isn't thrust upon you full force.
One of the biggest things I learned from living on campus was group management skills. Your family is most likely going to love you no matter what, but as for your roommates, that'll be a different story. Obviously you won't have the power to control your roommates; you're not their parents, but you can ask to have a meeting with them and let them of your concerns. Everyone is coming into this with what they're comfortable with, which might not be what you're comfortable with.
If you want to find more information on this topic, the Internet or your local college is the best place to find it but you're probably not going to find the most scholarly material.
But, take it from me, living on campus will give you things that can be used for the rest of your life.
Joseph Wood lives in Ashland.