All throughout elementary and middle school I was considered an “above-average” student. I tested into the high percentiles in english, social studies and science, making ISTEP a cakewalk that landed me into numerous honor-level classes; thus, allowing me to complete high school graduation requirements in just the seventh grade. Of course there were always those kids in my class who were smarter, who were considered overachievers and received national academic awards, but at least I was in the “above-average” range of students, right?
Once I got to high school, I was thrown into a student body of over two thousand people and realized that “above-average” was going to actually require effort to obtain and after freshman year, I decided I was content with being an “above-average average, below above-average” student. Yeah, I was an all A and a few B’s here and there student, but I was also an all-conference recognized athlete with a decent social life. I did not want to be the person who stressed over academics to the point that my athletics and social life had to suffer, and I wasn’t. Instead, I watched my fellow classmates cry over receiving a B on one of Henn’s terribly constructed essay prompts, deprive themselves from sleep attempting to study for the SAT and ACT and take to heart what a shitty high school curriculum said about their intelligence. With ease, I exceeded my graduation requirements, got accepted into every college I applied to and graduated in the top twenty-five percent of my five hundred person class, all as an “above-average average, below above-average” student.
Now, obviously, I have gone from a school of two thousand to a university of forty thousand and I do not even know what is considered average. Not only have I dropped three classes, but I have taken a ‘W’ in two of them and changed my major three times. I read through the syllabus of finite, saw that you couldn’t use a calculator and dropped it, I was studying for my philosophy midterm, realized I knew nothing and dropped it fifteen minutes before the deadline and I took my first chemistry exam, scored a 36 (out of 100), drove four hours home, dropped the (five credit) class and changed my major for the third time this year. You think that college cares what kind of student you were in high school? Wrong. You think high school readily prepared you for college? Nope. You think that memorizing MLA format over the past twelve years was worth it? My professor asked me what MLA format was, and told me it was useless information. Basically, getting to college is a lot like, “Congratulations on getting accepted! Have fun relearning how to learn and here is an entire new curriculum and set of educational guidelines, and by the way, your test scores, high school classes and educational achievements are absolutely irrelevant after admission!” But here’s the kicker, I received a 3.7 GPA my first semester of college, I am right on track with my career path and I am happy.
College is so much more than education, and that is what makes it worth it. College is about finding what you want to do for the rest of your life, and working towards that goal. College is about meeting people that help you grow and improve as a person, and making unforgettable memories with these people. College is about learning, discovering, creating and growing. You’re going to have to write an eight page paper about a topic you could not care less about, but afterwards, you are going to go to your dorm only to find your RA making pancakes in the lounge. You’re going to cry while walking to a chemistry exam at 7:00 PM because you cannot find the building, only to fail the exam, but then go dance away your stress with your best friends in the snack room at Acacia.
College has taught me that you do not have to be in Kelley or going pre-med to be successful and respected and you do not have to have your major, minor, internships and post-college job figured out your freshman year. I am learning to be an independent, somewhat responsible adult and how to do life 172 miles away from home. I am figuring out what I want to pursue a career in, I am grasping new things that I am good at, like blogging, and things that I would be better off without, like chemistry, and I am surrounding myself with people who make this process a hell of a lot easier.
Maybe my school work is labeled as average, and maybe I am in the middle of my class when it comes to academics, but the experiences I have gone through, the people I have met and the things I have learned are all beyond average. I am not an average person, I am always keeping people on their toes and I am constantly changing every aspect of myself to fit to what makes me happy. Grades are important and education is crucial, but academics are not everything.
You are more than a grade on an exam, you are more than seat 24B in a six hundred person lecture and you are more than a piece of paper. You are significant, capable and brave even when you feel as though you’re not. In my opinion, if you are considered average at an internationally honorable university of forty thousand students, you should be proud of yourself, because I know I am.