What College Taught Me

My oldest sister was dedicated enough to get her masters degree a few years ago and recently my other sister has finished her final term of college and now has a bachelors degree in communication. My mother has also been in school working on getting her bachelors in dental hygiene. I couldn’t be more proud of them with everything they have accomplished. As for me, I hate college. I deeply admire the people who love it and get excited to go. I might be more excited about it if I knew what I wanted to pursue.

When I initially started going to college, I applied at two schools. I wasn’t accepted to George Fox and later learned that it wasn’t a good idea to go there anyways because it’s slightly outrageous when it comes to tuition. So I ended up going to the second school I applied to with just about 60% of the people I graduated with which was Portland Community College.

PCC was cool at first. I mean it might be saying something since I definitely broke my shoe on the first day of classes. Nothing like going into Spanish with one shoe on for the first day… Thankfully, I knew enough to get by for the day. PCC Rock Creek is laid out with giant numbers on their buildings and it’s relatively a small campus which made it easy to navigate. There are four parking lots and if you know when to time it, you can always get a good spot. PCC Cascade isn’t as user friendly, you never actually have to worry about parking at Cascade once you find the underground parking lot that nobody knows about. Everything is well hidden at this campus and it has been known to go into lock down from events occurring in the neighborhood. Rock Creek and Cascade were the campuses that I spent the most time at and it didn’t take long to figure them out.

So what did I learn? I’ve learned that nobody is actually listening to you when everyone is supposed to go around and introduce themselves to the class on the first day. I learned that buying textbooks at the campus bookstore will cost a small fortune. I learned that only taking classes twice a week will save your gas. I figured out that if you’re not taking an 8:00am class, parking is nearly impossible because all lots will be filled by 9:30am. The funny part about my first year is that I kept quiet and didn’t ever talk to anyone unless it was in a group project for a class. I remember running into an old friend and going crazy, letting words just spill from my mouth and one of my classmates nearby just dropped her jaw while looking into my soul.

Things that teachers tell you but students will not:

  • The tutoring center works wonders (maybe at other schools, but when I know more about trig than the math tutor, we have a problem).
  • If you have an old version of the custom edition textbook, you can still use it (It’s all a giant lie).
  • You will use the textbook (If I ever used the textbook it was for a mere two-three pages depending on the class).

Things students will tell you:

  • Which teachers are the better ones (RateMyProfessor.com has saved me from many miserable experiences).
  • What events are happening (This goes along with the clubs at school that they desperately try to make you join).
  • Where to buy cheaper textbooks.
  • If you will actually need the textbook for a certain instructors class.

There are more things I could list, but we’ll keep it short for now.

Also, group projects… If that statement weren’t enough, let me tell you what it is like to carry a group of delinquents on the top of your anxiety driven life. It’s a nightmare. There’s a special place in the depths of my fire burning mind that hosts the list of people who have let me down and took all of my work, time, and effort just to get the grade that I deserved. To the individuals in my Public Speaking group, it really is not difficult to talk about something like Maslow’s Hierarchy, but you’re welcome for making the detailed enough power point for you to read word for word multiple times in a row.

It wouldn’t be right for me to leave out the broke college kid meals. Note to the incoming Freshmen, if you plan on saving money, don’t buy food from the school. A $9 slice of pizza will not satisfy you, especially if you thought it would taste good after sitting in the cafeteria all afternoon. Oh, and coffee! Let me tell you what it’s like to order something relatively simple to make (especially given that it’s a commonly purchased drink) just to get a hot cup of milk with little to no coffee in it. I can’t tell you how many coffee snobs burn in rage when looking through the foam at their cup of scorching hot milk. It was college that taught me how black coffee can rejuvenate your soul.

Plus sides to being a college student:

  • That ID card that gives you discounts or free entry.
  • When you’re at school for 12+ hours and there’s an event running where they give you free food (This is where I lost most of the members for my group projects who were dying of starvation).
  • Having the same people in multiple classes with you. Yay for not having to meet new people!!! (My Spanish crew knew what was up).
  • Those teachers that spend more time playing videos than they do lecturing (Can also suck depending on what kind of learner you are).
  • The Wi-Fi being faster at school than it is at home (For some of us at least).

If it weren’t obvious enough, college is expensive and paying for “extra” things like a parking permit or printing in the computer lab is a joke. I finished my Associates at PCC and I can’t be more happy to be done with it. I had my phase of dropping most of my classes because I couldn’t keep up. I also had my phase where I was overly dedicated to a subject and kept going back to it for my major.

Since being in college I have changed my major four times. I went from being a journalism major, to a psych major. After taking way too many psychology classes I thought I was going crazy and changed my major again, but this time it was for education. I work with kids all the time. It’s great and I don’t have to do anything special to impress them, they’re hilarious, and if they have a problem it’s usually something minor that I can help with. If you were to ask me if I wanted to work with kids for the rest of my life I would laugh, probably cry a little and start saying no repeatedly. Needless to say, my major changed again. While deciding on what to change it to, I spent a solid half an hour talking to an adviser who seemed to know my situation all too well. We agreed that I have a thing for how the human brain functions and that being a psychologist was probably what was best (especially according to my transcripts).

So what schools have excellent psychology programs? Just about every Ivy League school in the United States which I know well enough not to apply for. Where else? Several schools in California. Do I want to go to California? Absolutely not. Why? Out of state with my funding was out of question. What about in state? I’m working on it. I’ve applied to Western Oregon and Portland State. The problem is trying to pull myself together enough to just finish the program and move on with my life.

College has taught me that no matter the time, money, and effort you put in, you can only get so much out of it. Sure, I’ve met a lot of people, reconnected with people from high school, finally declared a major that I won’t allow myself to change again. All at the cost of not knowing where I want to take it next.


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