a poll, sponsored by my mom
So my Mom called me up and polled everyone at our house this evening, and she wanted me to in turn poll everyone online, because virtually all of my friends have gone to college (whether you graduated or not is completely irrelevant. It should not prevent you from participating in the poll).
She had two questions. The first:
Why did you go to college?
The second, a corollary to the first:
What did you find most difficult to adjust to, from high school to college?
For what it’s worth, my answers to those questions are: My parents expected me to; and, learning to study. I did not, in fact, really learn to study in college, or indeed until after I’d graduated. Not until I took some online courses through Foothill did I develop the actual discipline to study.
So, anyway, why did you go to college?
I went to college because (A) it sure as hell beat finding a job of the calibre available to high school graduates (B) there were a whole hell of a lot of things I still wanted to learn.
The most difficult adjustment was probably the commute (from ten minutes to forty-five) or the sudden and overwhelming freedom. You didn’t have to be in class from X o’clock to y forty-five, you could have a varying number of classes on different days (including no class on Friday if you were careful)… Completely different.
I went to college because that’s what everyone seemed to expect of me. Though, at the time I didn’t realize that was my reason. I had such plans and dreams and none of them really came true. :(
The hardest thing to adjust to, for me, was actually having to work. I coasted through High School, because I could and am, apparently, an inherently lazy creature. I couldn’t do that at college. My math deficencies really showed up there and it was the first time I failed a class, ever. It was shocking to me and I didn’t really get over that shock.
Same as the above, pretty much. My parents pressured me into going to the same university my dad had. The biggest adjustment once there was realizing I was no longer the smartest kid in the class, but on the contrary had very average grades. (No doubt due to being used to coast through the classes in the equivalent of high school, too.)
There’s kind of two answers to the first question. First, why going to any college at all was because I wanted to make more money than I did when I worked a summer at Sea World serving ice cream, and I was pretty sure that anything I took at Caltech would probably lead me to a better salary. Secondly, why did I decide to go to Caltech had kind of a fourfold reason. The first was because of the five colleges I was accepted to and toured, I liked the people at Caltech the best. The second was that, for my money (I paid for half of my education, and I don’t think I would have cared as much about it if I hadn’t worked so damned hard for that part of my education) it was the most fun and most interesting. Third was the reputation. Fourth was because I had a crush on one of the guys I’d met on my all-female pre-frosh week long stay at the campus.
The utterly hardest thing about the transition was suddenly having a social life. Going from quiet geek girl who walked around with her nose in a book to suddenly being one of the one women for every seven men was extremelly difficult to adjust to, especially when grades didn’t matter for our freshman year. When it’s just pass and fail, it’s so easy to try and slide by with a bare pass, especially when it would be more fun to go out with someone rather than do the same-old of study, study, study. This is why women flamed out at Caltech at a far more spectacular rate then men.
It was pushed upon us at a young age from almost all areas of society that we really must go to college. So, I figured.. heck, might as well!!
The discipline to stick to it all, attendance and work, was what I found the most difficult. I found that once I had the freedom to make the decision about what I wanted to do, I didn’t WANT to do it… at the time anyhow. I sure wish I had NOW though!!
Even though AT&T has screwed me and 800K other people, I can still use livejournal. Ehehehe. Fear me. (Hrm. Perhaps I should update my LJ, since people can’t check *my* webpage at the moment.)
Ahem. Why did I go to college? My parents are (were) both college professors. One has two masters degrees. One is a PhD. I *grew up* quite literally in college classrooms. I used to take my dad’s finals with the rest of his class. So you could say that, yeah, it was just sort of a given that I’d go.
(I got a scholarship into AMDA right before I went to college. AMDA = Academy of Music and Dramatic Arts. Did I go? Nooooo, I had to go to college first. I am sometimes not so bright. I dropped out of college three years through. Boy were my parents thrilled.)
Ahem again. The hardest thing? Suddenly being in charge of me. No curfew, no bedtime. No need to get up at a specific time. No one to make meals, no one to remind me it was laundry day. All those things that adults do that kids sort of take for granted. Yep.
I went to college, the first time, because I wanted to learn stuff. I had a bunch of questions and an intellectual thirst. The hardest thing for me to adjust to was the fact that, just like high school, and just like jr. high before that, I was bored, bored, bored by the shallow treatment of the subjects in which I was interested (namely psychology, history, literature: the “humanities” in the old sense of the word.) I had questions that teachers told me weren’t covered by the scope of the class, and I kept getting annoyed looks from the people smart enough to realize how ‘grading on a curve’ actually worked. My curiosity beaten out of me, I stopped taking classes.
I went back to college the second time because I knew I could get a better job (read: a more interesting job) with a degree than without one, though I waited until I was old enough not have to involve my parents in the financial aid process. College hadn’t changed much, but at least I had learned to laugh at it, and do my own thing, while jumping through the hoops. I liked having so much free time on my hands.
I just want to pause to jump on my soapbox and say, here, that liberal arts should be, and can be, as rigorously demanding as anything in the sciences. However, the way I have experienced it being taught in the American school system, and in the colleges I have attended, the liberal arts are a joke. But, I guess you have to put the sports scholarship students somewhere.
As you can probably tell, I’m more than a little bitter about my college experiences. I’m not sure that there was anything I could have done at the time to change things, but if I could go back in time knowing what I know now, I suspect I could have given myself enough good advice (“tie your dad to a chair and go to one of those expensive ivy league schools that accepted you and have some fun!”) to change this, but I am not unhappy about how my life has turned out, so I guess I’ll just chalk one up to experience and get over myself.
I think my response is unusual. Chrisber asks me to answer for him. He said he went to college because he couldn’t imagine not going to college. His parents both hold advanced degrees, and both sides of his family are academics and professional people. The hardest thing for him to adapt to was how hard college was.
I suspect that had I been fortunate enough to go to Caltech I would have been similarly overwhelmed. I wish I’d had the chance to find out.
I was not only expected to go – but I thought it was a great way to escape my parents. Not that they were/are not wonderful, but as an Only Child I found I really needed to flee.
Again, as an Only Child, the worst part in adjusting for me was missing everything at home! My pets, my parents… and all my friends were scattered. It was especially bad when I didn’t go home for a holiday weekend. Bleah. And the fact I was in a TEENY TINY room that could only fit one desk.
Actually… it was a great year. Hope this helps Mom. :)
1. It was obvious from about the time I was five that I was about the smartest person I knew. This wasn’t an arrogance thing, just taken as fact. It was assumed by everyone — family, relatives, church, peers, teachers, people I’d meet in grocery stores — that I was going to go to college, and in fact that I’d pick an excellent and exclusive one. I didn’t even consider alternatives.
2. Once going to college I had to go from quite a structured and supervised environment (under which I didn’t sufficiently chafe, in retrospect) to an environment where I could decide to flick off my work for weeks and no one would say a word. I had never learned to prioritize and my entire college career suffered. In some ways this deficiency is still with me; college is too late to learn the lesson properly.