It’s that time of the year where everyone and their brother sends you a survey to take: housing, teacher evaluations, and for the seniors you have an extra thousand concerning your academic program and your entire Harding experience. This is also the time in the semester where every single adult you come in contact with will ask you what you plan on doing for the summer or after graduation. One survey in particular asked about my post-graduation plans, the worst of both worlds. This leads me to ask myself the question: am I really prepared for this real life thing I have to do?
About a year ago, I scheduled one of my finals in the testing lab. I felt that I was finished with studying, and I wanted to get the test over with so I arrived at the testing lab early. They didn’t have a computer open for me, so they told me to come back in about an hour. I went to the Student Center to check my mail and grab a bagel to pass the time. At the time Einstein’s was still fairly new, and I got a blueberry bagel with strawberry schmear. I hate that word. Schmear.
I sat at a table near the bookstore, and I heard a man approach a group of girls sitting at a table behind me. He said, “Hi, I’m making this video asking current students if they were prepared to come to college. Would you mind if I recorded you talking about this?” I don’t know what the video was for or what the point of it was, and I still don’t really know who this guy is, but I see him around everywhere and I assume he’s an admissions counselor.
These kinds of interactions make me really nervous. I don’t really like the way I sound recorded (this is one of the reasons I despise transcribing my own interviews) and I typically require some kind of preparation in order for the noises that come out of my mouth to be coherent enough for the average listener. As the butterflies began to swarm in my stomach, I thought about what I would say if this mystery man solicited an answer from me.
He never walked up to me, and I was definitely relieved. I still remember this seemingly pointless story because of the unspoken answer I had conjured up in my brain: No, I wasn’t prepared for college because you can never be fully prepared for anything.
I spent hours studying for my advanced placement chemistry and calculus classes, I volunteered at church, joined the show choir program and played soccer for a little while. I took an ACT prep course. Colleges use this arbitrary test score as a gauge to judge whether or not you are prepared to go to college, and Harding gave me some free money because I was apparently prepared enough to come here.
There were things that I encountered during my undergraduate college years that no amount of high school instruction could have prepared me for. My parents got divorced. I had to learn how to be social because I only had a few friends growing up. My faith was challenged. I changed my major several times. I had terrible roommates at some points.
Even though I am graduating very soon and my program was excellent, college didn’t prepare me for some things life will inevitably hurl at me afterward (she throws a mean curveball). I am buying a car soon after commencement. I have to rent my first apartment. I have to get my first big girl job. I’m hopefully going to graduate school where I will take my first online, night and weekend classes. Some day, I’ll decide to get married and have children, which are two things I can definitively say I’ve never done before.
Nothing you do in life will adequately equip you with all of the skills you need for the challenges ahead. But if life were predictable and none of your experiences actually required any expenditure of work or stress, wouldn’t it be really really boring? I guess that’s the beauty of life. It’s hard, but it is fun.