Telling people that you’re headed to college is an almost instant invitation for them to either tell you about their experiences or for them to tell you some myth that they heard through the grapevine. When you arrive on campus, you’ll face the same thing from classmates, roommates or professors. Soon enough, you’ll either debunk these myths or sometimes, for better or for worse, you’ll find out that those very myths are true.
I think the biggest one that I encountered was that my life would only be books and basketball; I would have no time for any clubs, friends or relaxation. The first semester of my first year I really thought that was going to be the case, as day after day I just spent my time either in my room, on the court, or sometimes — on the rare occasion — in the radio studios. By the time I reached Thanksgiving break, I was miserable and didn’t think that I could continue on the trajectory that I had set. Something had to give, which made me think that it would either be my schoolwork or basketball suffering.
Coming home that late fall, I realized that the lifestyle I had chosen wasn’t sustainable at all. I had to think of ways to make my college experience what I wanted it to be and debunk the preconceived notion that my life would only be basketball and books.
Making the change isn’t easy and breaking a habit that I had already become so convinced of was incredibly tedious. It involved me becoming incredibly aware of my own needs and wants out of my college experience. I started off with doing work at VIC and eventually moved up to working with WICB. I was much more outgoing and willing to meet new people, and sometimes that meant putting off work in the name of “just being ahead of the syllabus.” It’s had its ups and downs, and the COVID-19 pandemic brought me back to what I felt in my first semester. Having nothing but school and not having the ability to physically move myself away from where I was doing my work made me feel as if I was in a hamster wheel. I was forced to, again, think of ways to push myself to find a space for myself.
It first started with downloading TikTok, which for myself and I’m sure many others, gave an escape and a sort of feeling that I was connected with people from all over the globe based on this shared experience. It kept evolving to a point where I designated a specific spot for my work. I stayed in my dining room and tried to avoid doing work anywhere near my room. The forced change that I created during that time has really translated into my current work and life balance now. I’m in my second to last semester, and seeing how the COVID-19 pandemic has cut the experiences that I was able to create here on campus and in Ithaca, I now am even more aware of taking time to have lunch with friends or go to that festival and not worry about whether or not I’m ahead on my work.
College doesn’t have to be and shouldn’t be students picking between their degree and a healthy, memorable four years. I found this out the hard way, but I’m so much better because of it. We can and should be multifaceted. All of us are going to come out of college in however many years it takes, and when we move on, those grades or papers you handed in aren’t going to comment on your Instagram post or schedule a reunion. The people you meet through the clubs, sports and day-to-day interactions are what make college the experience everyone talks about for the rest of their lives.
So, yes: the myth that “you’re going to college just for an education so you should only be attending school” is completely false. Take the time now to make connections and do the things that will make memories for a lifetime, so when you look back in 10 years or so from now you aren’t stuck with a whole bunch of what ifs.