By Luke Worsham
In twenty-first century America, secondary education has become as much of a milestone as an infant’s first step, a child’s first time treading water in a pool, and a young teenager’s first time behind the wheel of a car. Numerous studies by companies such as the New York Times and the National Center for Education Statistics reveal that the average percentage of high school graduates who attend either a four-year university or two-year community college stays around 67-70% each year. While the start of one’s college experience is exciting and full of promise, many people may be surprised that just over half of that 67-70% who attend college out of high school will actually graduate and obtain a degree. 52.9% is the exact percentage, as reported in 2015 by the National Student Clearinghouse.
A quick Google search on “the scariest parts of college” reveals that the struggles most students encounter in college can be broken into three categories: academic pressures, social pressures, and personal challenges. This fall, I will begin attending Belmont University in Nashville as an incoming freshman. I am an alumnus of Agathos Classical School in Columbia, Tennessee, where all of my primary education took place. The highest total number of students that Agathos had during my fourteen years there was around the 150 mark. In a stark contrast, Belmont will have over 8,000 students enrolled during the 2017-18 school year. Despite the increase in the students around me and the aforementioned struggles that college students always seem to encounter, I feel highly prepared to attend college.
Many people assume that students who attend smaller, private middle and high schools are trapped in a social “bubble” which will inevitably be popped when they enter “the real world.” I imagine that may be true in some cases, but I do not think that college or any other post-high school path will be a major culture shock for most private school graduates. Sure, there’s a bit of a bubble during the school day, but a majority of my classmates are involved on social media, work jobs, and have friends who attend public schools. We are well aware of the facts that not everyone is nice, that you have to work hard to earn your place in the world, and that nothing will be handed to us.
Students from all backgrounds struggle to succeed in college. The real reason I feel that I am apt for college success is not the fact that I did not really grow up in a social vacuum, but because I have learned independence. Because of the way I was raised by my family, the way I always have attacked schoolwork and life in general, and the type of friends I have chosen, I feel that I am well equipped to handle the challenges of college. Will the schoolwork be more difficult? Probably. Will I encounter bad influences who try to entice me into making terrible decisions? Undoubtedly. Will I have to manage my own money instead of relying on parents to do that? Of course. But, because I have made good choices throughout high school to develop a strong sense of independence, I see these situations not as challenges, but merely as obstacles.