They say that college is the best four years of your life, but I simply don’t buy it. I refuse to peak this early and resign myself to a lifetime that will never be as great as four measly years in my adolescence. I also don’t think that you can categorize one time as the best ever. Maybe college will be the best years of my adolescence, but in life, we are constantly evolving and growing and what is best at one time may not be what you enjoy, what feeds your soul, at a later time. Labeling time periods as the best devalues and inhibits you from finding joy in what you happen to be doing in other moments.
College is an incredible experience, but it is not fun and games all the time. It is difficult and challenging and often pushes people to their breaking points. Yes, college is partying and barbecues, but it is also late nights studying, early mornings, competition, social pressure, regret and isolation. College is a 24/7 experience. There is no down time; you are on at every moment. I simply don’t believe that a burning the candle at both ends, high-pressure type environment is sustainable for more than four years or fun all the time.
All that being said, what college does do incredibly well is spring. For all you college students not attending universities in the south or southern California, you know what I’m talking about. Winters are long. They reek of finals. Of mid semester slumps. Of schlepping huge parkas to parties and falling on your way to class because of ice. They make the worst parts of school even darker. Spring on college campuses is a beacon of hope.
When people say that college is the best four years of your life they are referring to the three weeks of spring right after a never-ending winter and before the oppressive humidity sets in. They are referring to an elation that is only attainable after severe sun deprivation and the tantalizing view of summer vacation on the horizon. Spring is beautiful to any type of person, but it takes on special meaning in college because there is no other time in life that you will have the flexibility to enjoy it in the ways we do. Adults are stuck inside working and don’t have summer break to look forward to. Even students younger than college age who have spring to serve as a reminder of summer aren’t able to enjoy spring like we do because of rigid class schedules.
Spring is what every idealized version of college is based on. It’s sitting on the lawn and spring concerts. It’s suns out guns out and bro tanks. It is grilling and sneaking up to rooftops and darties galore. It is “doing homework” on the lawn, class on the grass, and lazy leisurely afternoons spent soaking up nothing more than vitamin D and your friends’ presence. It is the return of pale man thighs, of people throwing frisbees and dodging footballs being thrown by shirtless guys.
The return of spring to college campuses is the physical shedding of clothes, but also the metaphorical shedding of seriousness and melancholy brought on by winter. It is a reminder to stop taking yourself so seriously. That these collegiate years of irresponsibility are fleeting. Spring reminds you you are alive and young and missing a class is actually a really good idea if you’re going to spend it soaking up the fleeting gloriousness that is this weather with these people.
While I may not consider these the best four years of my life, these three week springs, before we stop appreciating the heat, will serve as a reminder of the best of what college has to offer. Of the freedom of sporadic class, weird hours, and inconsistent obligations. Presently they will serve as reminder when the going gets tough and the library hours seem endless, that there is pure goodness left in the world and in the future when work is oppressive of the good times had. So I invite you all, collegiate students and not, to stop what you’re doing, breakout your jorts, and find a lawn or rooftop.