This I Believe

Brian - San Luis Obispo, California
Entered on February 10, 2007
Age Group: 18 - 30
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“Find Yourself”

I believe college is the most valuable experience in a person’s life.

Ever since I was in grade school, my parents, teachers, and my relatives always told me that college was the best four years of their lives. When I asked my parents why college was so wonderful, they told me, “College is where you find yourself.”

As I grew up, I made friends, tried new things, and learned new lessons. Every night during high school, I’d sit at my desk late at night, after a tiring day of school and basketball practice, and finish every last piece of homework for no other reason than to please my parents and go to a good university. I would scribble on the 6th sheet of paper of unassigned history outlines and resist the temping bedtime call of my queen size bed. I would wake up in the morning, tired. I’d drive to school and spend the day trying to impress people, making sure I sat with the right crowd at lunch. I was acting like many adults still do, simply because I hadn’t yet “found myself”.

Now I sit here writing this essay as a nineteen-year-old college sophomore, and I have finally begun to realize what my parents meant. A university is the only institution that can bring together so many different people with so many different perspectives and allow them to learn from each other in an undiscriminating, educational environment. In two short years, I have had experiences in college that have completely changed who I am and how I act. I’ve lived in a small, cement walled dorm room with a roommate who was my complete opposite, made friends from all different walks of life, taken classes from experts, listened to distinguished speakers, gone to educational seminars, and debated with others my age about our role in society, alternative energy, and how to change the world with free-market economics. I’ve gone to parties and events, met people from all over the world, people with many different backgrounds and ideas. The lessons I have taken away from these experiences affect my outlook on life and the way I act. I study because I want to learn, I make lasting friendships, and I am confident in who I am.

There will always be those who argue that other things in life are more valuable than a college experience. Some say fatherhood, some say getting married, some say their career. But I believe that people find themselves in college. They learn a self-identity, a sense of self-confidence, a mind trained to question society and to work for a better world. These are qualities that we all need before we become fathers, husbands or career people. These are the qualities of a college graduate, and they are qualities that every human being should have, which is I why value a college education as the single most important experience in a person’s life.