I have been a senior for only two weeks and I already want to stay in college forever. Sadly, not for the partying, which I’ve done my fair share of, nor the numerous credit hours taken in electives that I didn’t really need, but rather for the sense of community that can only be found on a small campus.
In a college environment, there is a promotion of growth that is appreciated by everyone who chose to either better themselves or assist others in bettering themselves. This is something to be cherished because it doesn’t last forever, but, it is not my biggest reason for wanting to stay in college. What I’m going to miss most is the nurturing atmosphere that makes a person’s school of choice essentially their home away from home.
I’ve made Northern into my home by familiarizing myself not just with the campus, but with the community beyond, establishing both personal and professional relationships along the way. The best part about the journey for me has been the constant push to adapt to new things and the openness of everyone around me to different ways of thinking. While it’s been somewhat of a bumpy ride, I managed to make it through a couple semesters of academic probation, and now I’m closer to the end than I could have ever imagined. Despite this, a part of me wants the road to keep going so I don’t have to face real world problems that I don’t feel prepared for.
Since my freshman days in 2013, before the smoking ban, when the Brule Run was still a thing and Jamrich was little more than a circle in the academic mall, I have watched the campus around me transform almost completely into a place I no longer recognize, and I’ve transformed with it in my own way. However, the thought of not having the resources of a positive social atmosphere, good teachers to learn from and career advice at my disposal is terrifying.
Most of my anxiety stems from the thought of no longer being in a learning environment. Because routine keeps me going on a day-to-day basis, being without structure may make feel lost. Without a nurturing and structured environment—like the metaphorical bubble at NMU—it is easy to fall through the cracks or grow complacent and never go beyond just getting a certificate. Perhaps this is why so many millennials find it hard to get their life on track after their college careers, or maybe it’s because they quickly realize that just getting a degree doesn’t make a person successful.
Although I have learned much in pursuing a degree, I realize that there is still much to learn about the world around me. I can recite the First Amendment word for word, but I can’t keep a balanced diet, or get enough sleep for the life of me. While this is all just a part of being a young adult, it is also a constant reminder of how unprepared I am for life after college. This doesn’t mean that I don’t want to grow up, but it does mean that I still have a lot of growing up to do.
In all of my anxiety, I can say that I am honestly unprepared for tomorrow, but I am completely ready to face the unknown, and it is because of the fearlessness I grew accustomed to at Northern.