We caught up with Abbas Mohammad, SRA Class of 2006, on what he misses most about college.
When I was in college, there were times when I thought to myself, “I can’t wait to graduate and get into the real world”. Of course it was understandable because such thoughts were motivated by the fact that you may have had a roommate that you could not stand, or the professor that made you pull your hair out of your skull, or simply having to eat roman noodles every other meal. And here I am writing about how much I miss those days. Perhaps not the irritating roommates, or the unreasonable professor, or the unstable diet part but rather the parts that helped me grow not only intellectually and professionally but also socially. Although there are lots I miss about college, these are the most important ones.
The complete and utter untrammeled life you live in college is truly unmatched to any point in your life. Before college our lives are very much controlled by our parents and the limitations of what you can do as kid or a teenager. Whether you like it or not you have to go attend to go to school everyday, eat your vegetables, brush your teeth, don’t be out too late, and the list goes on and on. However once you enter college it all changes. Whether it is choosing a career path, who to hang out with, and how late to stay out, or what to eat and when to eat, you have a complete freedom over the choices you make. No one is making you do anything that you do not agree with. But once you graduate everything takes one hundred and eighty degree turn once again. I came to this realization after graduation when I was suddenly hit with a less then dismal job market and having bills to pay. Once you do find a job, you can’t just take a day off because don’t feel like it. And you certainly can’t show up to work in pajamas and sweats and let alone having the thought of going back to your room and sleeping again. So enjoy it while it lasts.
2. Academic Environment:
I remember having intensive debates on subjects from religion and politics to sports and everything in between. One of the most intense arguments I ever had with a roommate was on what sport was better, soccer or rugby. The argument went for several hours without having reached any conclusive agreement. Having a stimulating conversation seemed much easier back then, regardless of the subject. Perhaps it was because everyone around me was just as eager to learn and passionate about a given subject. You could always find someone who had the same, and sometimes even greater, level of intellectual curiosity given a particular subject matter. And not to mention having access to the people who have PhDs on the subjects you are interested. Yes, I am talking about the professors. If you are even remotely interested in a subject, you have access to someone who knows everything there is to know about it. The fours years of college is one of the only periods in your life where you have the option to explore your interests and curiosities and learn from experts and other people who are just as passionate as you are.
3. Social Life:
Social life after college is never the same. After a full day of work and a long commute you get pretty tired by the time you get home. You change from your work clothes into something more comfortable at which point even making dinner seems to be a challenge, let alone going out with friends and being sociable. I am not sure about others, but once I change into my pajamas that is when the day ends. This didn’t seem to be a problem in college. In order to socialize, all you needed to do was to get out of your room and the possibilities for a social gathering was endless. Usually there was a party in your living room, and if not, you start an impromptu gathering on the spot. All it takes is a few phone calls or walking down the hallway. And yes no one would care if you were in pajamas. And not to mention how easy it is to start a conversation. Just ask one of the following questions. What is your major? What classes are you taking? Who are you taking it with? That was a guaranteed few hours of either sharing your fascination with a particular subject or simply bashing on a particular professor that you didn’t like.
Playing sports is perhaps one of the most difficult things once you get out college, especially if you are into team sports like soccer, basketball, or football. One of my most memorable moments from college is playing soccer at any time regardless of the time or weather. All it took was to grab a ball and show up in the quad area and slowly you have a complete team. Throughout the four years of my college years, I played intramural soccer every semester. Even if I had a midterm the next day I wouldn’t dare miss the game. Although with some research and commitment you could recreate this outside of college, but the accessibility that you have in college is just incomparable.
Out of everything I miss about college, this is probably at the top. This only becomes noticeable once you graduate and get a job. There is no job that you can get after college that will give you, summer break, spring break, winter break, and any other breaks for that matter. Aside from small trips that I made during my college years within the United States, I studied abroad for a semester at the University of Amsterdam in the Netherlands. I had class two days a week. And yes that means I had a five-day weekend every week. In so many ways the days I didn’t go to class, I learned just as much if not more. I traveled to fifteen different European countries over the course six months. And what I learned from those trips can never be learned in any class. Most importantly, at no point in my life I can think of a time where I would be able travel to that many countries all at once, unless of course I win a lottery and take an early retirement.
Now you are probably thinking what is the point of telling all these things that you already know. The point I am trying make here is that there are so many things we take for granted while in college. So take advantage of all the time and resources you have at your disposal. Make the best of everything so you wont have any regrets once you graduate. If you are thinking of taking that class that sounds interesting, take it. If you are thinking of going to study abroad, do it. Do it now.