You do you

As alumni are returning to campus this weekend, I would assume that many of them most likely “found themselves” or grew into their roots on this campus. College seems like the perfect place for people to really figure out who they are. It’s a transition period when you’re thrown into this world you’ve never set foot in before, without any of your main supporters by your side. While it’s scary for everyone at first, many students really find out what they’re passionate about and who they want to be as they spend four years becoming real people with unique ideas and viewpoints. However, many students don’t experience this, and that’s not talked about enough.

Everyone assumes that, because you have this vast, wide opportunity of a higher education, that you are magically going to become a new person, fueled by all of this incoming academic and life knowledge. Why is there so much pressure on finding yourself and becoming who you are in these four years? At Rensselaer, most students declare their majors before they start. Although a lot of people switch around, people usually have a general sense of what they want to do. This is one of my favorite things about this school, because it brought us in as freshmen and treated us as if we were already real, complete, “found” people.

I could go on for hours talking about how much of a privilege it is to experience higher education, despite it feeling like a punishment a lot of the time. At RPI, we are tasked, as 18-year olds, to determine what we want to spend the rest of our lives doing. Instead of putting us through general education courses, some we might hate and some we might love, in order to find our passion, we are allowed to declare our passion and follow it from the first day of freshman year to graduation. RPI really facilitates students coming in as people who know who they are and what they want to do, and although this might seem like a pretty mundane part of an education to many students, I find it to be really exciting.

The pressure that society puts on young adults to find themselves in college can sometimes be overlooked, but it is ever-present. You’re supposed to have the best four years of your life and learn how to be an adult and blah blah blah. I find comfort in the fact that RPI doesn’t force students into finding themselves, but provides the experience for those who feel that they need to. Adulthood and self-assurance do not come by the flick of a switch, as I’m sure many alumni can attest to, and I think it’s important that we support and acknowledge people who want to find themselves and those who just want to get their education and move on.