How College Made Me a Better Person

We’ve all heard before that college is a time of growth for most people.  It’s the first time in our lives when we’re on our own and surrounded by so many people who are completely different from the people we’ve grown up around.  Each day, we’re faced with a hundred decisions we’d never even considered before.  But just because college means change, doesn’t mean that change is the same for everyone, just that you’ll come out a different person than when you went in.

Self-Improvement through College

More Open-Minded

Before college, I never knew a wide range of people.  I attended several very small Catholic grade schools, most of which only had one class of about 25 students for each grade, the majority of whom were white, middle-class Republicans.  Even when I reached high-school and my parents let me go to the local public school, I graduated with a class of less than 300 students.  So it wasn’t until college that I started to meet a variety of people with beliefs, education, and backgrounds different than my own.

While I’d like to believe I’ve always been an accepting and relatively open-minded person, I can’t honestly remember what my beliefs were before college, except that they aligned pretty easily with that of my friends and parents.
College introduced me to so many new ideas, ways of thinking, people, and cultures.  It was an experience that molded who I am and what I believe while introducing me to so many different types of people.

More Self-Aware

For many of the same reasons I became more open-minded and opinionated in college, I also became more aware of who I am as a person.

As a teenager, so much of who you are and what you believe is based on what your friends think, say and do.  You gravitate towards people just like you, and for the most part it’s easy to agree with what most of your friends believe.  For me though, college was more about finding who I am and what I believe.

As a freshman, I walked into my dorm room having no idea what I wanted to major in or where I hope to be four years later.  The major I was absolutely set on declaring on Monday was no longer even a consideration by the weekend, and it took a year and a half as well as a series of classes before I realized what it was that I wanted to be doing.  And even that decision – to become a journalist – had changed by the time I graduated a few months ago.

More Inquisitive

I’ve always loved learning, and the start of a new school year.  For as long as I can remember, writing and reading have been my favorite subjects in school, and I can remember days in high-school where I couldn’t wait to get to those classes.

It wasn’t until college though that my interests expanded.  The electives I was able to fit into my schedule were some of the most rewarding experiences I had in a college classroom setting, and they’ve led me to continue learning, to continue asking questions.
I always say that if I had the money, I’d be a professional student because I graduated a few months ago still wanting to take so many different classes: languages, Holocaust studies, art, photography, philosophy, religious studies… If I had the chance, I don’t know if I’d ever graduate.

So what about you?  How did college change you?

  • Alyssa Zapinski

    I love this post. I can agree, personally, to all of these things. College really is a doorway to figuring out who you really are as a person. What do you love? What do you believe? Who are you friends? All that and more. It’s amazing, really.

  • Sweet Catastrophe Blog

    I feel like you took the words out of my mouth. I also came from a very small high school, my class was 87 students! I was terrified of college but ended up loving it. I met all sorts of people, it forced me to think for myself and take the time to decide what I thought about things. It was the best decision of my life, what I learned, who I met (and still connect with today) made me who I am today.

  • Brita Long

    Yes, I agree with all of this. That said, for me, college was only the first step. I was an au pair in the suburbs of Paris my first year out of school, and I grew as much in that one year as I did in my four years at college.

  • Madison @ Wetherills Say I Do

    I totally agree with all of these thoughts! Being more open minded is seriously one of the best things I learned in college!

  • Chelsea

    I agree with all of these–such a good time of growing!

  • Marielle

    I know what you mean. I loved the electives I took and I still regret that there were so many classes I couldn’t fit into my schedule – like Irish Gaelic, this class on courtly love/sex in the Middle Ages, foreign lit, linguistics. . .I’d love to be a professional student in the non-graduate student sense. I have to say though that college wasn’t really my time. I became more open-minded and self-aware, etc., but it still seemed like the thirteenth grade to me since I hung out with the same core group of people from high school. There was a huge difference between college graduate me and expat me. And yay for getting Disqus :)

  • Hannah Taylor-Johnson

    Self awareness and tolerance became big ones for me. It was eye opening. But, really, it was post-university that I grew the most. My experiences at university were awesome but being able to reflect on them and learn that the things that caused me stress and discomfort were actually ok. I didn’t need to fit in and I loved learning that. I wish I’d learned that during university but learning it shortly afterwards was also great!


  • Hannah Taylor-Johnson

    Yes! I agree. I liked university but it wasn’t for me. I have learned more from travelling than I did from uni. I think there are so many people in university who are just as unsure as they were in high school and if you don’t push yourself (I didn’t at least), you end up with people very similar to those you spent time with in high school. It’s not a a bad thing per se, but travel did more for me than university did. I hear that it’s different when you get to masters level because everyone has chosen to be there rather than it being an ‘obvious’ next step…

  • Lizzy

    I definitely became a lot more inquisitive at university and it’s stayed with me ever since. I think I’m on a long life quest to expand my knowledge as much as possible!

    Nomad Notebook

  • Lani

    I saw Marielle’s post, and wanted to know what the other inspired blogger wrote :D It sounds like college was really good for you. I never thought about coming from small schools and stepping into the wider student body of college life. I graduated from a big high school and went to a small college. And I think your blog post, in general, is what college should be all about! Cheers.