I am halfway through the third year of my undergraduate career. It wasn't until this academic year that I realized just how much I value my higher education. Despite all of the additional stress and workload, it has recently resonated with me the magnitude to which I truly appreciate attending college.

I had this realization as I became an upperclassman undergraduate student. Now I am fully immersed in my chosen fields of study after passing all of the general education requirements and introductory courses, and I absolutely love it. While I do admit there are definitely days where things are more challenging and I probably question my intentions a hundred times, at the end of the day, I would never give up the experience of furthering my education.

Through the time I have put forth toward my undergraduate degree thus far, I have been exposed to numerous ideologies, challenged to think critically, developed a sense of value preferences, enhanced my public speaking and writing skills, defended my stance on issues, remained open to new perspectives, perfected my time management skills, been rewarded for hard work, motivated to persevere, and inspired by some exceptional faculty. Every second is a learning experience; every second has been worth it.

Life is all about balance and learning how to juggle multiple factors that will hopefully result in a well-rounded, quality means of living. However, there are going to be instances where you have to prioritize these factors in your life in order to achieve whatever it is that you are aiming to do. This means making sacrifices because it is impossible to do everything all of the time.

Personally, I am proud to say that my education is my top priority at this point in my life. School comes first over relationships of any kind, social events, hobbies, health, work, physical appearance, or any type of distraction. Of course, these things all are important to value and intertwined, and I do value them; however, just not to the extent to which I value my journey through higher education.

I did not realize it until this year after it really stands out to me whenever somebody makes a decision that puts their schoolwork on the backburner. While this is OK to do sometimes, it is just mind-boggling for me to fathom why some people do this so frequently. Shouldn't you want to put your education first, at least most of the time, because, without it, the potential for opportunity would be gone?

At the end of the day, whatever gives you purpose and makes you feel as if you are living a fulfilled life in which you are satisfied, then that is all that truly matters. The determinants are individualized for each person. However, after recently resonating with the idea that, at this point in time, my top priority is excelling in my educational experience, I want other people who have priorities similar to mine to embrace their preference. Don't ever question whether school should be your top priority, because, if it is, then there must be a reason why you feel this way. Don't ever compare yourself to what other people are choosing to do with their time because if it's not affecting you, then you should not care too much about it.

Finally, don't ever feel bad about saying no to other activities because you want to make time to sufficiently complete your homework assignment and study; you will reap the benefits of this sacrifice later as you are successful in school and land your dream job.