For a blog that presents itself as real talk central, there has been very little content of actual substance. This post intends to change that. I’m going to try to give a sobering look at both the admission process and college life itself. This post will be long. If you want pictures, just scroll down to my other posts.

Applying and the pre-college naivety

Do not choose an institution at the undergraduate level solely because of it has a strong department in your “prospective major.” The quotes reveal why I say this; you will probably not major in what you now think you’ll be majoring in. Back in high school, I was convinced that I would be a physics major and become a physicist. My reasoning? I was one of the top of my physics class in high school and knew what a Bose-Einstein condensate was. After my first semester at Amherst, it became clear that majoring in physics was not right for me. Why? Because being top of your class in something in high school means nothing. It’s only when you have some separation from high school and home that your true passions and talents will (hopefully) present themselves. To be honest, I’m still looking for mine. This is a difficult process; do not be under the illusion that you’ve already found it in high school. 

Choose an institution that gives you the chance to explore and find what you’re passionate in. I’m saying “institution” instead of “college” because maybe a university is the best fit for you. I’m also not trying to sell you the open curriculum; visit Amherst (or email me) if you want to be sold. Choose a place with faculty that care about the students. I’ve found that faculty are more inspirational than the material itself. A dedicated faculty gives you the option to have in depth conversations in fields that maybe your friends don’t have expertise in.

The wasted years: my critique of college

Now for some real talk. The formative four years that make up the undergraduate education are wasted on alcoholics that call themselves college students. Good, I’ve got your attention. This is obviously a heinous generalization; many college students don’t drink or drink with perfect moderation. Why is it then that the media and Hollywood present college as a cesspool of degradation? Because the actions of those who buy into the image of college as a chill-as-bro time speak louder than those who enjoy a quiet existence.

You may be wondering why this is a bad thing. Those who are planning on entering the corporate world or politics may appreciate a chance to blow off some steam before the rigors of the world set in. Others may agree that this is bad, but choose a more “each to their own” approach: live and let live. Both of these views fail to acknowledge what I pointed out earlier: the loudness of debauchery overwhelms the quietude of moderation. This translates into a cultural view that college students are all immature partiers that can be taken seriously only when they emerge from this necessarily tumultuous period. It is this that I cannot stand.

Unless you choose to go into academia, in what other time of your life will you have the chance to pursue knowledge for its own sake? We are at our most creative, our most fearless. It is said that mathematicians produce their most original work before the age of thirty (and commonly in their mid-twenties). The human brain continues to develop until the age of twenty-five. Why are we wasting this time of our lives? What are we afraid of?

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I didn’t write this to attack people who have no complaints about the image of college life. Nor did I write this to discourage you from going to Amherst (it happens here, yes, but also at every other institution). My goal is to give you something to consider as you slowly transition to the real world (college isn’t the real world, btw).

Final points to take away from this:
- Choose a school that will give you the chance to explore and find what is truly important to you
- Remember to take a moment to reflect on what you’re doing and why you’re doing it

Finally, question society’s command to “Enjoy!” But I digress.