#collegecanwait: Why I’m not attending my dream school (yet)

Sebastian Paine - India


August 4, 2016

High school is a paradox. We, as students and as human beings, are at once created and destroyed. We grow, learn, and pursue new interests and hobbies. Thus, we are built up into who we are. At the same time, we are beaten down by a cycle of academic competition, peer pressure, and ruthless standardized testing. We are told that we are special and unique, but treated like robots. We are pushed down the assembly line and out the door to find that we know how to solve complex mathematical equations, but not how to cook a meal, create a budget, write a resume, or do our taxes. By the end of high school, we’re barely adults, yet expected to know what we want to do for the rest of our lives. We go through 12 years of rigorous education to prepare us for college applications, and little else. In short, the average high school graduate is hardly ready for college, let alone the real world.

 

In response to this, we must stand together and forge a new path by running along the road less traveled until it becomes as well-worn as the other. We must look this vicious system defiantly in the eye and tell it that #collegecanwait until we are good and ready. To stop and take a deep breath is our silent act of rebellion. To turn around and question what we’ve been told is our louder one. A “gap” year is a gap in our schooling, but not in our learning. We are stopping to smell the roses, taking time to gather ourselves because life is not one-dimensional. It’s not a race. Instead of rushing to a finish line that doesn’t quite exist, it is important to take a step back, to look at the bigger picture, as well as to look within. It’s not a gap, but rather a bridge. And as we stand in the center of our bridge, we are greeted by a 360-degree view of life, in which we seek to understand and improve ourselves and our world.

 

#collegecanwait because our most important learning happens when we close the textbook and look at the world around us. When we lift our nose from those pages, we come face to face with the real people with whom we share this space, and the complex global issues that affect us all. The most important first step we can take to solve these problems is to experience them firsthand, to hold them in our palm and stare them unwaveringly in the face as did a certain young prince of Denmark. We are all Hamlets, and our Yoricks await us, but they do not sit gingerly on the pages of our schoolbooks. Rather, they are buried deep in long-forgotten graves, and there they will stay until we have the courage to go out and find them.

 

#collegecanwait because opportunity is knocking, and she is an impatient and fickle mistress. There’s no time to lounge around. If we choose to open the door, (and, I implore you, please do) we will find it is an entirely new world that greets us. Adventure awaits, and a breath of fresh air is always sweetest under an unfamiliar sky. It’s time to live, love, laugh, and learn in our own way. Seize the day, lest it seize you. It can be a terribly frightening endeavor to take such a leap of faith, but fear not the unknown, for it is simply that which you have not yet had the pleasure of experiencing. Fear the unattempted, the regretted, and the missed out on.

#collegecanwait because my dreams can’t.

Sebastian Paine