‘What It’s Really Like’ is an original series written by students and recent graduates about what it’s really like to be a college student. Want to share your story? Email [email protected].
What’s it really like to be one of the 20 million college students in the U.S. is akin to being in a new city, navigating your way around in a blur of confusion and certainty.
You know why you’re there, you know this is where you’re supposed to be, but there are always stoplights, crossways, people bumping into you. Sometimes you get lost.
That’s what it’s been like for me. It’s not the best time of your life. It’s the most influential, and that’s better than the best.
I’m an over full-time student working three jobs. As threatening as that sounds, this is exactly where I’m meant to be. I know that my stark circumstances are the essence of college fears but this is an experience.
Before I even stepped a foot into my college years, I became a certified dental and medical assistant during high school. In the evenings I took college classes on top of my high school demands. The day I received my certificate for being a medical assistant was nothing more than an expected accomplishment.
At the time, I was nearing my high school graduation and regularly talking with the dean of my future medical school. Then I stopped at a stoplight, which I hadn’t done for a while.
I had been moving fast. I was going fast toward college to further my pursuit of the medical field but only because I was good at what I was doing. That’s when I stopped. I realized that this wasn’t what I wanted. What I wanted was to have the power and influence to inform others.
Living in small towns and big cities throughout my adolescence allowed me to experience the disparity of social environment. What I learned and unlearned throughout my time was racism and ignorance. By the time I had unlearned malicious ideals I knew the only right thing to do was use my knowledge to help others overcome hateful ideologies.
After realizing my purpose, I sent the most informal and unprofessional email to my professors and the dean to break my pursuit of the medical field. Then I crossed into what I knew I was meant to do. I began to pursue my writing which I half-regret ignoring for all those years.
I went to a different college, barred myself of my former medical knowledge and thrust myself into journalism. Today, I’m a double major of English and journalism. After a few months of pursuing this path, I was fortunate enough to have A’s on my transcripts, my actual words published and a steady position as a staff writer.
College is an experience and mine has led me to be exactly where I belong. As a college student, you’ll party, you’ll wake up late for an 8:00 A.M., you’ll meet people completely different than yourself and others on the same wavelength. You’ll learn about who you are and who you want to be.
The true college experience isn’t just the books. It’s the late nights fueled by coffee and conversations in passing − it’s the accumulation of events and exams. It’s the education.
The real concept of what it’s like to be a college student is pure, raw education. Education is synonymous with opportunity – the opportunity to grow as an individual, learn, comprehend, meet, collaborate, and expand your horizons, pursue a career but most importantly pursue yourself.
Bailey Peraita is a student at Santa Monica College, where she studies English and Journalism. Her writing has been published in top outlets including Thought Catalog. She is the Health & Lifestyle Editor at The Santa Monica College newspaper, The Corsair.