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.
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.
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?