college life

The Personal Growth of College Students

Upon arriving to college, new students tend to be nervous about what lies ahead for them. It can be frightening to see the great unknown called “your future” lying ahead in the years to come, but when college is over and done with, it’s safe to say that the unsure young freshman will have matured into a completely different person. 

The only question is, what kind of growth does college bring out in students? Besides being educated for a career in your chosen field, college elects personal growth above all other things. We learn how to become people, in a sense.

“I’d say we learn how to be a person, really,” said Chenowa Wendel, a sophomore English student. “We learn how to fend for ourselves and how to help others; we learn how to have fun and how to sacrifice our fun for our responsibilities.” 

Wendel, as a second year student, understands the expectations before her and the valuable lessons being at college is teaching her. The duality of her statements reflect the wide variety of lessons learned at college: you’re not just learning social skills and ways to live, you’re learning about compromises and sacrifices that are inevitable in life. “In a way, we learn what’s important and what isn’t,” she added.

People tend to come into their own once they’re left to their own devices. At college, you’re responsible for your own grades, food, and time management. The lack of a metaphorical “safety net” tends to bring out the best or worst in students. 

You stop being the person you were in high school for a number of reasons, because your attitude, environment, and expected behavior have all changed. This “reveal” of your inner self is characterized by your actions in college; by seeing what you are like under the pressure of being self-reliant and self-managed, you develop into the person you will likely be for your adult life.

“Once someone goes to college they meet people more like themselves, and that encourages them to be who they are and not just the ‘mask’ they hide behind,” said Anthony DeAnni, a freshman communication student. 

As a first year student, DeAnni is already noticing how others come into their own at college, and how they learn and are shaped by their peers. People reflect what’s around them, whether it’s their friends, their surroundings, or the lessons they are taught.

Alan Schwerin, an associate professor of philosophy, said, “You learn to cooperate with each other, and work together, whether with professors or students.  It’s a community of scholars, and is unique to a college.”

It’s so much more than education at college; it’s about who the student will grow into. College provides a few short years that will hopefully prepare a student for the adult world by the time they graduate, and it’s all some students can hope for to be able to look back and say that they learned well. We’ve seen student’s perspectives, but what about a graduate student, on their metaphorical ‘victory lap’? 

Andrew Colucci, a graduate student studying anthropology, said, “I think people have this preconceived notion of college being either a place of book smarts, or the stigma of fraternities and parties. But college is a place where you build the knowledge you need to get through life.” 

Colucci speaks from experience, having seen five years at a university and prepared for what lies ahead of him. “What we really learn in college is more broad and profound than just ‘skills.’ We learn how to connect with people, how to navigate stressful professional and social situations. All that isn’t stuff you get from a book or a couple classes. It’s the overall college experience that grants us the wisdom needed to become adults,” he added.

From the perspectives of different students and a professor, we can see how the years spent at a college incite growth and maturity from students. Education is vital and important, but the college experience itself is what makes college so valuable. We learn about the sacrifices necessary for adult life, we become who we are truly meant to be, and we learn by doing and from experience.

It’s inspiring to see upperclassmen look back on the lessons they learned, and underclassmen look forward to those they have yet to learn. Whether you’re in the sciences or humanities, playing sports or writing articles, you have a lot of learning yet to do, and chances are you’re right where you need to be.