For the past three years, The MVTimes has asked four recent Vineyard high school graduates to share their experiences during their first year after graduation. Zana van Rooyen is a freshman at Saint Michael’s College in Colchester, Vt. This is her third dispatch.
Get your sheets. Get your textbooks. Get your shower caddie. Get your lamp. Get your mini-fridge. Get your mattress cover. Get your under-the-bed storage. Get. Get. Get.
Getting prepared for college felt like getting ready to have a baby. Granted, I’ve never had a child, but I think I can stretch this metaphor a little bit for the sake of comparison.
Starting high school is like getting into a relationship with someone. Everything is new and exciting. New things to learn; new ideas to discuss. High school is full of hope and opportunity. Sort of like becoming a new couple.
The next few years of high school are full of ups, downs, and in-betweens. The road becomes more and more narrow as the sense of newness wears off. The road narrows, not in a bad way, but in the sense that there is only one choice left to make: whether or not to have a baby. And by having a baby, I mean whether or not to go to college.
Junior year rolls around, and the talks begin with your guidance counselors, parents, friends (and most important, yourself) about if college is the best choice for you. And if the answer is yes, you have a long road ahead of you.
The first trimester is full of excitement and some nervous energy. The application process begins, along with a full-fledged reflection of your entire life. Did I do enough? Am I even ready for this? Is it OK not to go to college, and why am I so nauseated — is this morning sickness? Questions like this, I have found, are all a part of the process. Only you know if you are ready to go to college. Even if all of the couples around you are having babies doesn’t mean that you have to, as well. And similarly, just because your best friend in the world is going to college, it doesn’t mean that you have to. It is only worth it if you are ready. If you are going to spend all of that money on one thing, don’t you want it to be the best it can possibly be? Getting past the anxiety of the first trimester is the hardest part.
And after months of trying you wait –— you wait for your acceptance letter in the mail every day after school. Every day you check for that letter … that golden ticket. And then at last it arrives, and you commit to your dream school. The second trimester is over, and all of your hard work is finally starting to show.
Now you’re into your final trimester. Graduation day has come and gone, and the summer seems to fly by, and before you know it, you’re off to college. The baby is born.
The first semester of college is a whirlwind of emotion, lack of sleep, tears, and snacks. You get no sleep. You barely find time to eat. You have no sense of time. Your body isn’t what it used to be.
So am I in college, or am I a first-time mom? If this metaphor made sense to you, great. If it didn’t, I’ll say it like this, shortly and sweetly. I did not know what I was getting into when I came to college. But wow, it’s the best thing that has ever happened to me.