You can find many different sayings or meanings about college through the Internet or media – whether it’s pictures, your older sibling, the American Pie movies or the College Humor Twitter account you follow. Everyone has an image of what they think college will be like.
And usually it’s never accurate.
But, you learn. And boy, the things you learn in college.
In four years, myself and the North Dakota State freshman class of 2011 who are graduating in a week have learned about life, each other and ourselves.
But (sorry professors), a handful of the stuff you learn in the classroom is overrated. It’s what you do outside the classroom and what you learn from it that gives you the real college experience. And that experience slowly prepares you for the real world.
As a freshman, guys learn you don’t have to chug your drink every time a frat dude hands you a beer bong. Ladies learn you don’t have to answer back every time an athlete slides into your DMs.
You learn you should get involved on campus, meet new people and not sit in your dorm all day. But you also learn you don’t have to say yes every time your floor’s resident assistant asks if you want to do something that, honestly, sounds like a terrible time.
You lose high school friends. And you make new friends.
Sophomore year you learn eating alone at the dining center isn’t embarrassing at all. You begin to learn what you did in high school really doesn’t matter, but everything you do and every decision you make as a college student has an impact on how you’ll live your life post-graduation.
You learn what rent is – and what cleaning is.
Junior year you realize you can create just as many memories watching movies and eating pizza with your “squad” than drinking cheap liquor in an overheated basement.
But then your friends turn 21. And then you turn 21. And just like freshman year, you feel invincible again. And in those first couple months of being legal, you hit up every single bar special you can find. And then your mom or dad calls.
You realize your credit card bill is rising faster than your GPA is lowering – another lesson learned as you painfully begin to realize your college days are already half over.
You learn what grown-up decisions are. And you learn to tip your bartenders.
All of a sudden senior year, you’re hanging out with a group of people you realize are your best friends in college, and you’re all ticked it took this long to find each other. You’re trying to grow up but still attempting to live your college days to the fullest. You also cringe when you open TimeHop and see what you tweeted as a freshman and sophomore.
And that’s when you learn how much you have grown as an adult through your years in college. You learn you are ready for the real world while creating memories of a lifetime.
It’s not that time you pulled an all-nighter for an exam to maintain your B in Biology 111. You won’t tell your kids that.
Grades are important. Your GPA is important. But as you grow older, you realize the big takeaways of college. The life lessons and the memories are things happening outside your class schedule.
NDSU has been great to my fellow graduates and me. You won’t find many places as special as Fargo, especially in these last four years.
But NDSU doesn’t make the students. The students make NDSU.
So if you still have remaining years at NDSU, go out and make your own memories.