a pattern of black graduation caps on a white background

Welcome to College

By Garrett McGinley
Web Content Contributor

You made it into a university and figured out a way to pay for it! Congratulations incoming freshmen and transfers, I am genuinely happy for you. This is a momentous event in your life, but now comes the hard part. University life is probably a completely different animal than anything you’ve experienced in your life thus far, and one that can break you if you’re not ready for it. Take my word for it, I’ve been at this whole college thing, on and off, for almost six years and made a lot of mistakes along the way.

I began my post-high school career at a community college, and I would recommend that most do the same. I loathed community college when I initially attended. I was envious of my friends that were going off to big universities all across the U.S. and having what I presumed was the time of their lives. All while I was stuck in what I thought was high school 2.0. In reality though, I was knocking out core classes that could transfer to basically any university I wanted to attend in the future and saving money while doing it. Attending community college was probably the most intelligent and cost-efficient thing I was forced to do in my collegiate career. I suppose if you’re a freshman reading this though, you have probably made the choice to bypass the community college system, and go directly to university. That’s OK too, but I would still recommend taking classes at your local community college if you have the opportunity to do so, if for no other reason than minimizing student loan debt.

When the time finally came for me to transfer to a university, I was determined, in some bizarre act of rebellion, to move as far away from home as I economically could. I desperately wanted to attend school out-of-state, but I failed to comprehend how expensive that would be. So, I was coerced out of that plan, and instead decided to transfer to Texas Tech. Tech was about as far from home I could be while still being in the state. I did not visit before I transferred and was in for a massive surprise when I arrived. Lubbock, where Tech is located, is the most desolate place I have ever been and it was also so damn windy all the time. I hated it there.

a gif of a tumbleweed rolling across a dusty road
A rendition of life in Lubbock. Gif by Imugur.com.

The one year I spent in Lubbock was perhaps the loneliest of my life. I knew a gaggle of friends from high school that went to Tech, but never really branched outside of them. That year was also when I had my most serious bout of depression. I was alone in a place where I didn’t really think I fit in and eight hours from home without a way to get back. Obviously, I did get out, and eventually ended up transferring to Texas State. I think what I am trying to say is, it’s OK if you feel like you’ve made a bad choice and need to transfer schools. Of course, you should probably try to put yourself out there and make use of all the resources available to you before making that decision. But you understand yourself more than anyone else and you should trust yourself to make that decision.

The next four, or more, or maybe fewer, years of your life will be the most formative time of your life. You have scary amounts of freedom. If you don’t want to go to class, no one will make you. It took me four years to find a locale that I enjoyed, but besides going into debt, I wouldn’t have changed a thing. Grades are important, but so are the experiences. If you are feeling alone, understand that you are not and that there are other people in situations similar to your own. Above all else, just try to make the most of your time because, like everything in life, it won’t last forever.

Featured image by Garrett McGinley.


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