Opinion | Are you really going to college to succeed?

Our society seems to present college as a route that will determine our future, income, and the rest of our life. The pressure is just terrifying. There are so many steps and so much to think about, with not enough time to fully comprehend the process. My whole life I have been thinking about this exact moment, but now here I am, about to apply to college, with no clue of who I am, or what I want for my future.

Yesterday, I couldn’t sleep. I stayed up all night thinking about how life is simply subjective, how each moment of life is mine, and how I am the owner of my life. I need to start emphasizing what I actually enjoy, instead of trying to satisfy society’s standards. 

I am in my last year of high school, and I can’t stop thinking about my college essay, being “good enough for scholarships,” and having a good GPA. Yet, I am simultaneously ignoring all the good experiences that I am already living. This is the last time I’ll cross H-hall or even live as a normal teenager in my family home. 

Nowadays, we are so focused on checking things off of our “human success checklist.” Instead, we should see our lives more deeply than college applications. I have heard comments like, “going to college is the secure path for success,” or, “I’m committing to this specific major because all of my family did.” But our lives should mean more than achieving the expectations of others—we should be living in the present. There’s no way of determining how our future will end up, so the only moment we have control over is the present, and the only way to live it is to be present. 

The word success is often associated with having money, a family or the standard type of life that everyone wants. I think success is more than that—not as basic as having a “perfect life.” Success is that part of your life in which you can say that you truly found yourself—where you are doing what you enjoy, not working a certain job because society makes you do it. If you want to travel all over the world, just do it. If you just want to sell your art, just do it. Limiting our minds to thinking there is one set path limits the possibilities of what our lives could look like. The world needs more excitement. We are losing the enthusiasm for living by not seeing the beauty in the small things. 

Someone asked me if I was going to be “successful” with my college major pick, and I immediately changed my first choice. Choosing a major or even going to college because you want to be successful might make you wealthy, but never truly successful. Success occurs when you choose to be unordinary. 

So, be as extravagant as you’d like with each moment of your life. Choose whatever makes you happy; enjoy the ride. Life is not a checklist. It is a path that means more than just arriving someplace—it is about enjoying the landscapes.