College is an opportunity not available to all

Autumn Kunkel and Autumn Kunkel

There’s always a lot of excitement that surrounds the beginning of the school year.

Students emerge after months of down time and are ready to exercise their academic minds and of course, celebrate.

It’s hard to overlook the constant and numerous parties that take place in the beginning of— and all throughout— the school year. It’s part of the college experience and is a prominent part of it almost universally [though the extent of said experience can vary from person to person].

But, while it’s important to have a good time in college, it’s just as equally important to recognize and take advantage of the opportunity that is college in an effort to learn and grow. After all, not everyone has the same opportunity of being a part of the institution.

Over the summer, I worked in the cafeteria of a prominent hospital. It was a menial job; my duties consisted of putting trays together, delivering trays, helping out in the dish room etc. It was a nice job to have if one wanted to earn a little extra money for a short period of time.

While working at this place, I met a lot of interesting people, most of which had never gone to college.

Some of employees never considered it, but others simply did not have the opportunity to be a part of the system.

When we got on the topic of what I was doing with my life, I would happily explain that I was in school and that this job was just a temporary thing. It never crossed my mind at that moment that I was lucky to be in school, and that some of those people may have wanted to do what I was doing, but simply couldn’t for various reasons.

It wasn’t until later that I began to realize how fortunate I truly was.

I’ve always known that college isn’t equally available to everyone, but my conversations with those people really put things into perspective.

A lot of factors contributed to my coworkers’ absence from higher education; many had put their lives on hold in an effort to raise children, while others simply didn’t have the finances. It was a lot of information to take in and, as naïve as it may make me seem, I was finally struck by the harsh reality that not everyone gets to do what they want with their life, especially so if it involves going to college.

The last conversation I had on that particular topic took place towards the end of my experience, just before I left for school and involved a worker who I became relatively good friends with. She told me that she wished she could just go off to school, but that’s simply not how things worked out and, “that’s just life.”

Ever since that experience, I’ve seen college in a whole new light.

While I’ve always been the type who has enjoyed learning, I’ve never really thought about how fortunate I am to even be able to obtain a higher education.

Up until I’d started working at that hospital, I had never been so grateful for the opportunity.

It’s okay to go to parties and have fun while in college, but that’s not what it’s all about. What’s really important is taking the opportunity and seizing it— I mean really seizing it— and using all of the resources to the best of one’s ability in an effort to learn and grow.

Some would do anything for a chance to have such an opportunity; if one does have it, it would be wise to not take it for granted.

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