My entire life my parents have provided me with everything I could ever ask for. They always made sure I had clothes on my back, a lunch packed for school, and willingly funded all of my extracurricular activities. They invested time, energy, and loads of money into gearing me up for success in my own life. I have never felt like I have missed out on anything, and I am thankful for every opportunity they have given me.
However, there were a few conditions.
From a very young age, my parents warned me that while they would do everything they could to help me while I was living under their roof, funding my college education was my own responsibility. Being aware of these expectations, I invested much of my time into my extracurriculars with hopes that eventually this would earn me a scholarship that would help me pay for college.
Not only did this make me a more reasonable person, but it also made me more dedicated and independent and allowed me to develop a solid understanding of where I wanted to go in life.
With that being said...
While attending college, I began to notice a certain pattern amongst students whose parents fund their education, and students who find a way to fund their own (whether that be scholarships, student loans, etc). Often when asked the question "What do you want to do after college?" the latter would respond "Probably go ahead and go to graduate school. I want to stay in school as long as possible."
And honestly, Why wouldn't you?
There is no rush to finish college because college is a safety net. Likely, these students take the lowest amount of credit hours available and have no concept of roommates or university housing because their parents make sure they are staying in a luxurious apartment as soon as possible.
Likely, these students are out every night with their friends, and the mystery lies in how they are funding their nights out with no job. Likely, these students have no issue going to graduate school because their parents are willing to fund that too.
So when does it stop?
It doesn't. The cycle is continuous. While most of these students will end up with valuable degrees, most of them will lack the drive or motivation that is developed from earning a degree that you had to work for. Most of them will likely flock back to their parents with a 75,000 dollar degree, but lack of direction.
So, thank you.
The greatest gift my parents ever gave me was forcing me to figure out my own education. It has allowed me to value each and every one of my classes. It has allowed me to understand the sacrifice I made to get my education and the importance of putting it to use. It has allowed me to develop a plan for my life that doesn't have my google searching "the grad school with the best party atmosphere."
Does that mean I've missed out on "the college experience"?
Hardly. I am part of an athletic team that allows me to be a collegiate athlete surrounded by teammates and friends with similar goals. I am close with my professors and have become a regular at the coffee shop I study at. So, I guess if your idea of a "College Experience" is going out every night and picking out your outfit for the next football game, I guess maybe I am.
But I think I have it pretty damn good. Thanks, Mom and Dad.