College: Beginning of adulthood or end of our childhood?

Opinion G logoBy Patrick Fallon |

When I walked onto Flagler Campus the first warm August afternoon I arrived here in St Augustine, I thought that graduation was the farthest possible thing in my future. All I had ahead of me were the friends and memories I would make to last a lifetime.

Boy was I wrong.

When I was younger, my mother used to poke fun at me because one of my biggest fears was growing up to be an adult and all the responsibilities that go along with it. On the day I arrived at Flagler, future friends and memories I would make were first on my mind. But second was the fact that it was the first day of my transition into adulthood. That was scary.

That is why we come to college right, to become adults? Most people will tell you that is the reason — to learn how to be responsible, hard working, educated and successful adults. Although that is a very important part of college, I see the opposite.

As I sit here three and a half years after that fateful day in August, I have become more of an adult than I ever thought I would become in college. More importantly in my eyes though is the fact that these last three years have not only been the beginning of my adulthood, but the end of my wonderful and unforgettable childhood.

It is an all-too-familiar feeling that “time flies when your having fun,” but through all the fun that college provides, there’s the responsibilities, the stressful times, and the ups and downs that all college students face. In our four to five years of higher education in hopes of achieving graduation and obtaining the coveted diploma, students like myself have to find a balance between the two.

I sit here now in my second to last semester at college, and like many people in my shoes, I am overwhelmed. I am stressed, tired and scared about what comes next.

Every year we have assignments, tests, papers and challenges that make us miserable. We keep working because we know that no matter how stressed or worked up we get, there is a light at the end of the tunnel. That light is graduation, or even more intimidating, adulthood.

No matter how bad school work might get, we know that it will get done and we will be one step closer to getting that $80,000 piece of paper we call a diploma. That gives us the motivation to keep working hard, stay dedicated, and get that assignment we hate so much done so we can graduate. But does it give us motivation to succeed or does it do the opposite?

See, in my case, I feel like I am at a breaking point with assignments and stress. I feel as though I am becoming less tolerant, less excited, and having less fun because graduation is coming at me full steam ahead. See, we put so much pressure on ourselves to get things done. But as the end gets closer, the urge to get done so we can graduate scares you to death. Because when you really think about it, what comes next?

The job? The family? Traveling? Moving back home? Being alone to fend for yourself?

So what is there to be excited about? Yes, I am going to have my diploma, but is that going to make me happy?

Obviously today it is known that the success rate of a person with a college diploma compared to just a high school diploma after graduation is higher and more common, but is the stress, the time, and the money worth it? One day it might be, but for now there is a huge question mark.

I’m stressed not only because of my assignments and college responsibilities, but because I only have one semester left here at Flagler and I feel like I’m spending all of my time working when I should be enjoying my last months here embracing the reasons why I came here.

I want to spend time with my friends, some who believe it or not I may never see again. I want to go spend time on the beach that I may never touch foot on again. I want to be irresponsible while I still can! Is that too much to ask?

To some I may be irrational, or what I am saying may be irresponsible, but I can almost guarantee that each graduate this year has had thoughts of not being so stressed about the future and more about wanting to live in the now and present. To some of you, like myself, this may make you really sad, but these final months at Flagler are our last chances to be a kid.

So, to all my graduating class mates, peers, friends, but more importantly younger Flagler Saints, do what you have to do to succeed, achieve your goals, be dedicated and responsible, but I beg you not to forget that we have one chance to do this college thing so find that balance. Give yourself the opportunity to be an adult and a kid because you deserve that last chance and opportunity. Do so and I predict that you will remember your Flagler College days as the most memorable, influential, and amazing times of your young life.

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