The American College Experience

Imagine you go through all of your early childhood education with teachers who all went to grocery stores, all similar in nature though some minor differences that are not very notable. Then when you get into high school you are told repeatedly that the best way to succeed is to go to one of these grocery stores as well. Now even if you have no intention of going to this store, or if you can’t realistically afford it, and even if you are not prepared to go to this store; you are still pushed towards it with all the force in the world from the; teachers, administration, the store itself, peers, and in some cases parents. Finally after talking about attending this store to preview it, taking a test to decide whether or not you are worthy to purchase from this store, and then at last getting a letter saying you can come and enroll with the products this store offers. In some instances you will be required to live almost full time on the premises of the store. You  now walk in the doors as a patron for the first time.

As you enter and take a look around you are greeted by a row of people each one of them offering something different based on your interests. They each have a list of items that you are required to purchase before you can receive your receipt. You select one of them based on your interests and find that not everything on the list is in the same area as your interests.

Before you can be too concerned by that you are shown to a room where you are told that you must select a housing option and meal plan. At least for the first year you are at this store. After selecting the one that makes you feel the best you are introduced to the person who is sharing the same space as you. It is a tight squeeze but the two of you make this work as a living arrangement for about a week before the first issue occurs but by this point you have already began your shopping.

You are required to go through several aisles, each one labeled with what is in it like English or History, taking items that you would have never considered relevant to what you want to do. As you find these items on your list your interests may change, realizing maybe you like some things more or less than you originally thought. Maybe one of these items changes what you want as a final out come from this shopping experience. So you return to the people with the lists and request a new one. Now you learn that some of the items you have taken are not applicable to your new list. However you cannot return anything and will still have to buy those items. Your return to your shopping a little saddened by this realization, as you go one of them tells you. “The average person will change lists 3 times during their time in this store.”

You have continued to live in the housing offered by the store due to its convenience. You have seen several roommates come and go, but now you have made a great friend whom you have lived with for the past several years. You and this friend have made many friends throughout the store all with different lists and interests.

You continue onward through the store adding items to your cart. As you go the items on the cart add more weight despite being the same size as the other items. It is in this moment you understand that these later items are heavier because they are worth more after you receive your receipt. Some of these heavier items also caught you off guard by their weight so you accidentally broke one or two. You had to pay for them of course and then also for non broken ones because you need them to get the receipt.

You have seen so many things in this store. The people who are their to help like the Resident Assistants, Aisle Managers, and Advisers. There are also so many fun things to go to like Spirit Week, Dances, and free Plays. You have a hard time imagining where else you can experience so much community just by being at the store. It is hard to imagine leaving but finally the time comes.

At last you are standing at the cash register. The cashier stands there with a smile on their face already holding your receipt. They barely know your name but are so happy for you to have made it this far. Your family all comes and takes pictures while you pass the teller and receive this long awaited certificate. It only took your five years, but you accomplished it. You and many of your friends you have made over the course of half a decade, about a forth of your life spent in this store. You will remain close to them for the rest of your life based on the experiences you have had in this store.

Now reality sets in as you have to pay off all of those items that you purchased, you also realize you have no practical experience in the area you worked so hard to be in, and in some instance you realize that you need to return to the store to receive some much larger items or just more items. It is time to start living a life outside of school which is something you have not done since you were 4 years old, and now that you are 22 you are not sure how that will feel. It is something new and uncomfortable at first but most adults have done it. So it can’t be that bad, right?

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