If you were to ask a professor, administrator or English purist to define college, you would likely receive several answers – an academic institution of higher learning, a time to grow and learn more about yourself and the world (or perhaps even just the place) a lot of people go after high school.
While I wouldn’t contradict any of those potential responses, my definition of college differs a bit. I think it is the last time anyone can make mistakes without suffering detrimental consequences.
I’m not talking about committing violent crimes against others – if you do that in college and get caught, say goodbye to college and hello to the nearest penitentiary.
But making mistakes in classes – that’s the fun part. I don’t celebrate failing an exam, but neither do I react negatively.
Flipping out over a failed exam would directly contradict the point of going to college – we all go to college to learn, and learning best occurs through error.
The terms “second chance” no longer applies after graduating college. Not paying or “forgetting” to pay your bills results in a heartwarming meeting with the IRS, an organization designed to comfort all of us in our times of financial need.
Beyond that, “forgetting” to pay your bills can lead to jail time, the loss of your residence or both – a bit of tough justice from Uncle Sam.
And simply messing up an assignment at work can easily get you fired – academic probation and reprimands might as well never have existed.
The next time you’re thinking college is a hassle and you ought to drop out, remember: mistakes in college equate to learning more, whereas mistakes post-graduation equate to potentially devastating consequences from which you may never recover.
It scares me that this is the last time we can screw up and still be accepted by those around us – if we do that after college, we’re going to be met with icy stares and fingers pointing to the nearest exit. And why. Because people have no sense of humor.
As the Joker said, “Why so serious?”
People sometimes say college is difficult – and so it is, academically – but here, we can make as many mistakes as we’d like (just about) and generally, no serious consequences arise.
In real life, no one has themselves a fine chuckle over our antics because they just have to go “by the book,” which generally leads to our humiliation and/or complete despair, followed by a crisis of the soul.
I am looking forward to that.