Gateway to Real World

Jaime Coyne

You always hear that college is the last hoorah before facing the real world, but college actually seems like a big step toward the real world to me. I didn’t really realize it until just now, but over the past week the difference between high school and college has struck me.

College has felt a lot like camp. You run around doing things completely different from your home life, but act like it’s what you do everyday anyway. You smile big to every person you meet on that fateful first day, and initially hang around a lot of people you end up barely ever seeing again. You swallow down mediocre meals but eat lots of dessert. It all feels like home while you are caught up in the little moments, but when you stop to think about it, it seems very surreal.

I went home over Fall Break. Naturally, it felt like coming home from camp. The beds were softer, the food was better, and the people really knew me. The problem is, after a whirlwind few days of reacquainting myself with home, it was back to camp. That was never a part of the scenario before. Approaching Hamilton on the way back and seeing all those cows and bales of hay, I couldn’t help but smile and think, “Yeah. This is home, too.”

Going home had been a nice visit, but now I was back to the schedule I had become accustomed to. I could eat, sleep, work, and play whenever I wanted or needed to. I’d yet to get completely back into my college routine, however, before Parents’ Weekend arrived three days later. (Feel free to explain the logic of that situation to me.) Now my parents were going to come to camp with me? This really was surreal. I was thrown into a situation (as many have before me) of being in my new home, my home of growth and independence, but being jolted back into the role of the kid from my old home.

It is this most recent experience that has really made apparent to me the role college plays in the transition into the real world. Yes, your parents probably still support you, and you get to continue to avoid joining the workforce and finding your career. Nonetheless, you can’t help but make your own decisions and find out the type of person you are in college. No one will stop you from doing what you want to do. No one will make you do what you should do. No one will do for you what you have to do.

You are faced with a real aspect of life: growing up. Maybe college is a cushier, safer place than the real world, but it certainly yields more hazard signs than home did. With any luck, I will leave Colgate with the knowledge to succeed in my career and the independence to get myself there. Maybe it’s just a stepping-stone, but it’s real.