I graduated college two months ago to the day. I’m really blessed to have gone to Princeton. I recognize that the University was a series of blessings not only of the financial sort but also of the networking and opportunity sort.
About two weeks ago I was asked about my Princeton experience and what it was for me- how I did there. I was little taken aback by the question because it was the first time I’ve been really asked it since graduating (in more than just a “Wow. So Princeton, huh?” sort of way).
As I started talking through my feelings, I realized that while I loved some part of Princeton, there were others that were and remain to be extremely problematic.
A read a blog post by Vasu Kulkarni, which you can read in full here, that poignantly captures many of the problems:
As I read this, I couldn’t help but spend the entirety of it nodding. This was exactly my case. I came from a 96-year-old high school that had never sent a kid to Princeton and hadn’t sent a kid to an Ivy League in over 30 years. I had been Captain of three Varsity sports and the debate team, yearbook Editor-in-Chief, a shift leader at a local Dunkin Donuts, an intern at my Congressman’s office, involved in Campus Ministry, and the list goes on and on. I thought I was special when I went off to college.
A week in college and I suddenly no longer felt special. It didn’t take seven days for Princeton to give me the reminder that I did not below. When people discussed SAT scores, I could not help but wonder if my admission was a mistake. After the first week of classes, all “introductory” level, I did not know if I would ever make it out of there alive.
Now, here I am, a college graduate. I have a degree written entirely in Latin with only my name on it. Yea, there are 1200 other people who got one of those fancy pieces of paper this year. But mine is special. My degree represents more that just some classes I took. When I look at it, it also represents overcoming struggle. It reminds me that I overcame a struggle that lots of kids don’t. When the deck was stacked against me, I figured it out. And, the best part, I won.
For every college kid who is struggling, let me say that there is help. I was lucky enough to have mentors who clearly cared for me and took an interest in my well-being as a student and as a person. These individuals were crucial to my success. So seek them. And seek help. And seek guidance. And seek support. There are people here who want to help you and who want to see you succeed. I promise, I am one of them.
While that’s pretty serious, here’s something to make you smile:
I’m linking this post up with Aubrey over at High-Heeled Love for the Friday Confessional Series. Sometimes purging is good for the soul and this is one of those times.
Emilie is an Army Wife, Data Engineer, and CrossFitter with a love for working through her thoughts in this space on the internet. She is a contributor to many open source projects including dbt, Meltano, and GitLab. She lives with her husband Casey, their son RJ, and their pup Bo in Columbus, GA.