Don't limit the best times of your life to four years of college

By Erin Kircher

Contributing Writer

College is amazing. That’s the message I got at age 14 the day I visited my brother at his unbelievably messy, deafeningly loud fraternity house. I found myself mesmerized by the excitement and freedom of this lifestyle.

If I had been able to, I would have packed up my bags and started college myself the next day. Unfortunately, I had several years of SAT preparation, AP classes and college counseling before I was ready for that step.

Growing up, so much of our time is spent preparing and looking forward to college. As antsy adolescents caught in constant screaming matches with our parents, we held on to the hope of one day being free from curfews and other tedious rules.

While movies like “Old School” and “Van Wilder” are extremely entertaining, they only escalate our optimistic expectations for college. In these films, college is unrealistically portrayed as all raging parties and endless good times. This puts an enormous amount of pressure on your college experience.

I can’t count the number of times I’ve heard the phrase, “College will be the best four years of your life.” While I certainly can’t argue with the sentiment that college is an incredibly life-changing time, I have to express my frustrations with the idea that in the 80-plus years you may live, you have only four golden years–and you peak by about age 22.

I’ve enjoyed college enormously thus far, and I intend to continue doing so. But it is only a brief phase of life and there are so many other exciting phases to experience.

For all those students out there who are daunted by the idea of stepping outside of this “Bucknell Bubble” and venturing out into the “real world,” let me highlight some potentially bright parts of your post-college life.

First of all, no homework (sorry future graduate school students, it may take you a while to reach this benefit). Time off work no longer means hours spent in the library. Even better, some salaried positions offer paid vacations. Getting paid to enjoy yourself? Sounds good to me.

If you’re worried that you’ll miss out on the fun of intramural sports, think again. There are organizations like ZogSports in NYC, where you can form your own co-ed league. There are also an endless number of charities to involve yourself in; you just won’t have the luxury of finding out about all of them at a community service fair.

Some of us may never want to leave college like Ryan Reynolds in “Van Wilder,” because we’ve been convinced that nothing can ever be as wild and stimulating as college life.

If you want the next (hopefully) 60-plus years of your life to be just as amazing, then that is up to you to make them so. It is not so much our circumstances that decide our happiness, but how we react to our circumstances.

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