Why no one does college “right”

Photo courtesy of Flickr

Photo courtesy of Flickr

After 14 weeks of blogging about the end of my undergraduate Emily Goldberg headshotcareer, it’s now actually the final week of my undergraduate career — a little bit of a drawn-out farewell, I know, but bear with me for one more blog post.

I thought writing my last post would be easy. In fact, even as this past weekend came to a close I thought for sure that in the next few days I’d have some revelation about my entire college experience. I thought that I’d be able to sum it all up succinctly and make some profound, or at least somewhat entertaining, point about the last four years.

Well on Tuesday night, I realized it would be much harder than that. After writing, erasing and completely starting over, I came to the conclusion that there’s no right or wrong way to write this post  just like there’s no right or wrong way to have spent the last four years.

Before I left for college I remember people telling me that it would be the best four years of my life. I thought there had to be some concrete, specific way, to achieve that “best experience” that everyone was talking about. I wanted to meet my best friends, have the best time, travel to the best places, just like everyone told me I would.

Now, with 15 days left before graduation, I know that it wasn’t about doing it the best way, or even the right way. I’m lucky enough that there have been plenty great times throughout the last four years. It’s true that I have met some of my best friends, had the best times with them and traveled to some amazing places, but I think I’d be selling my college experience short if I billed it as just “the best of the best.”

In theory, four years of only the best would have been great, but I’ve realized that’s not what college is all about. It’s also about the mistakes, the regrets, the worsts and the low points that you eventually get yourself through. It’s those moments that have helped me learn a little bit about how to approach the next chapter of my life — a chapter that comes with even more uncertainty than leaving home for the first time to go to college.

If the last four years were simply “the best” it would imply that you did everything right, that you have no regrets, that everything was perfect, exactly how you imagined, that you were never disappointed. In reality, for most people, it’s anything but that. Even for my friends that wanted to go to USC all their lives and are clinging to their last days as an undergraduate student, I know there are things that even they would change about the last four years.

College is one crazy roller coaster of ups, downs and turns that you never expected, but I think that’s kind of the point. It’s like wandering around for four years without a map or directions, but when you finally do get to the finish line, you just wish you could do it all over again.

Emily Goldberg is a senior majoring in print and digital journalism. Her blog column, Diaries of a Second-Semester Senior, runs every Thursday.