SHEAREROn one hand, it seems strange that the human species cares for its young for such a long time, relative to other species. Yet on the other hand it’s absurd to think that anything close to a majority of high-school graduates are self-sufficient and capable of taking care of themselves.

Looking back on my 18 years of complete dependency, I can’t say there was a time when anyone explicitly told me what the point of college was. I don’t mean the occupational benefits of continued education, or the Darwinian emphasis on “naturally selecting” a more educated and therefore more fit species.

What I’m really referring to is the personal meaning of college and the first years of adulthood being spent in a pit of disarray. I’ve recently pondered what I intend to gain from my college experience, and I’ve come to several conclusions about the true purpose of college.

The first, and perhaps the most obvious, is that I would like to embrace collegiate-style learning and learn to voice my opinions and concerns in an articulate way to an audience that has genuine interest. It’s a rarity in high school for a student to share with peers and teachers who actually care about what’s said and the meaning behind it.

The second conclusion revolves around learning to make lifelong friends and social connections. With today’s world being so social, both physically and online, it’s almost a prerequisite to any job — and to a happy existence — to be able to make friends with perfect strangers. The perks of being socially connected range from simple friendships to business partnerships, and what better place to make such connections than on a campus concentrated with intelligent, interested, inspired people?

My third conclusion is a rather boring one, but it’s a lifelong skill that will set the leaders aside from those who have no personal motivation or initiative. Without parents or overbearing teachers to remind of due dates and projects, learning time management and organization in college can pose a real challenge. The students who are capable of succeeding in college as a result of their own efforts and skills are the students who will likely be “the boss” someday, simply because they possess a natural ability to get things done. That’s not to say that the struggling fledglings and dazed slackers can’t be successful, rather that they will have a higher hurdle to jump later in the race.

My fourth and final conclusion about college is the most defining notion I have about the next four years of my life. In no more than 1,500 days I will become a fully functioning, independent adult, hopefully attaining some sense of my own character and life goals. College will provide me with the opportunity to completely find myself. I will be pushed and pulled in many directions until I find a stretch that’s just right for me.

Though it may sound clichéd, college is about finding our individuality, and discovering how each of us fits into the world as a whole. I look forward to the next four years as an opportunity to continue to grow as a person and to learn from other individuals with unique mindsets. After all, isn’t that what college is all about?

Laura Shearer is a senior at Wilsonville High School. She is contributing a regular column to the Spokesman this school year.

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