This I Believe

Julia - Lafayette, California
Entered on December 14, 2006

This I Admit: College.

This I admit: I am your typical suburban rich white teenager. I have grown up in a wealthy neighborhood. I have grown up in one of the highest ranked school districts in the state. I have grown up with one goal: to get into a good college.

College. It was the past, it is the future, and it is now. It is what I have been working toward since the fourth grade when I asked why it mattered what grades I got, and my mom answered that I had to do well in elementary school so that I could do well in middle school so that I could do well in high school so that I could go to a good college and well . . .

College. It is where I will go to learn “everything.” I will play Frisbee and make new friends and party hard. But most of all, I will stare at small black ink spots on white page after white page so that I can learn so that I can be an educated, civilized, suburban citizen. Because getting good grades in college – writing overflowing papers, reading piles of texts, and listening to professors pontificate endlessly – will be what defines how smart I am and how successful I will be.

College. I will graduate, I will get married, and I will have two kids, a boy and a girl, and a Golden Retriever named Fido- just as I have always wanted. I will work diligently and half-heartedly for eight hours a day designing commercials, analyzing DNA, or even reading college admission essays. My college-graduate-husband will become a workaholic – staying after hours, never eating at home – to send our two kids to a good school. We will live in suburbia so that my kids can grow up in one of the highest ranked school districts in the state. My kids will grow up worrying about what they will do over the weekend, who they are going to the beach with, and if this shirt makes them look fat, but my kids will grow up with one prominent worry – to get into college. If they get into a good college then they can grow up and move to suburbia and have kids just like them who go to college who move to suburbia who have kids who go to college . . .

College. It has controlled my life for as long as I can remember. But snapshot of the typical suburban life cycle, the cycle of living just to go college, has made me reevaluate my previous lifelong goal of getting into a good college. I want to be able to live how I want to, without concern of how the college admissions officers want me to. I might graduate from high school and go to college, and live in suburbia, but if I do, it will be because I want to, not because society wants me to.

College. I can’t let it define my life. Textbooks may teach me Spanish, but they won’t teach me how to savor the last bit of mole con pollo in Granada on a sunny day. Textbooks may teach me physics, but they won’t teach me how to make the perfect, silent arc with my skis in three feet of fresh powder. Textbooks may teach me chemistry, but they won’t teach me how to hold a sparkling conversation with the student sitting next to me in class.

College? Huh?