Opinion | Let’s stop pretending there is a correct way to go to college

Emma Reith
Art Director
@reithemma

There is no right way to be a student at Chapman. There isn’t a pre-existing checklist created saying how many internships, involvements or friends you need to have in order to achieve perfect happiness and social capital – but still, many people strive to check each indefinable, invisible box.

These pre-graduation checklists aren’t one-size-fits-all, considering our differences in career goals and priorities. But we all still have them, and we all still think our lists are right. However you measure success, that’s up to you. Some people measure it as having the most popular senior thesis film, as being on your sorority’s executive board, as winning an award from the university, as having a 4.0 grade point average all throughout college. The point is, success in college is not objectively defined, so stop trying to be perfect.

Beyond being complete overachievers, people also expect themselves to have consistent joy and happiness. Realistically, you can’t have both. You can’t do it all and feel well-rested, well taken care of and still have a full cup to be able to pour into your involvements in a 10 p.m. to midnight meeting.

Without taking care of yourself and keeping a constant eye on your physical and mental health, you won’t be able to perform perfectly as the president of your club or an intern at a studio in Los Angeles. You won’t be able to be present in your classes and most importantly, you won’t be able to maintain healthy relationships with others.

You need to be able to say no, to quit things that aren’t working for you anymore, to guard yourself and dive into emotional experiences rather than focus your energy on resume builders. It is so rare to be able to have it all, so try your best to take care of yourself, work hard and love people.

It’s so overwhelming and at the end of the day, you are a human who is complicated and needs to be taken care of. There are so many ways that only you can take care of yourself. No fulfillment granted from success in your college experience can grant you that same care and same happiness you are going to need.

Don’t pretend you know the right way to do college. There’s no algorithm, no checklist, no objective path to success and perfection. There’s only you, so let yourself simply exist.