I’m still close friends with the first person I met at college. I met Craig the first day of our freshman year at UC Irvine when we moved into a dorm together. And yesterday, he forwarded me a social media post from our alma mater welcoming the class of 2023 to campus. Craig’s subject line to me: “30 years ago, this was us.”
Lesson #10 of my final 31 posts: Much of what you’ll find most valuable in college can’t be measured or predicted ahead of time.
I can’t say that I didn’t know that before I started blogging; I’d been telling families the same thing for years. But it’s become even more clear to me as one of the biggest benefits of my college experience has continued and even grown since I graduated.
In just the last ten years, I’ve gotten married. I’ve had two kids. I’ve celebrated selling and buying back a company. And I’ve experienced the first real personal loss of my life. Craig and my other closest friends from college have been there figuratively (and often literally) for all of it. To enjoy those relationships that began during our college years and continued as adults who are now on the edge of our fifties is like a recurring gift that my college keeps giving me.
I don’t think that anyone should attend college just to make friends (and I’m certain nobody should go into debt for that reason alone). But friendships are one of countless discoveries and potential benefits that await students at college but that can’t be predicted or evaluated like you can the size or location of the school. Those unpredictable rewards are one of the most important reasons why all of us at Collegewise preach that the most selective colleges don’t have the market cornered on wonderful college experiences.
Students and parents, as you progress through the college search and selection process, try to balance your astute research into the qualities you can evaluate with your resolute belief that some of the most enriching parts are there waiting to be discovered. The unpredictable benefits can impact your life as much or more than the degree will.
Craig’s son is now a senior in high school and a Collegewise student. We certainly couldn’t have predicted any of that when we moved into our tiny dorm room together 30 years ago, with no idea what was in store for us but excited to take the unpredictable journey.