Today is the beginning of Penn State’s annual Student Leadership Conference. It’s an event that brings together students from across the commonwealth to collaborate, learn and have a great time. This year I know a few students who are attending and hearing their enthusiasm has me nostalgic for those simpler times.
Looking back at all of the crises that I had to deal with, I now realize that what seemed like chaos was nothing compared to what was going on in the “real world.” As I’ve stated before, I was very active the last three years of school and I think I now know why I miss it. No matter what the issue was, it seemed like there was a solution.
The closed ecosystem of college may be a vacation from real life, but in its own way it’s great because it acts as an incubator for future problem solvers. Even something as insurmountable as curing cancer seems within reach through the efforts of groups like THON. I don’t miss most of my classes, or the studying, or exams that seemed to test nothing that actually proved you’d mastered the material, but I do miss that sense of hope and teamwork that “adults” can’t seem to handle.
I’m not sure what it is about “the real world” that makes us forget the lessons we learned in school, what causes us to exaggerate the us versus them mentality that used to only show itself on the football field, but it’s discouraging. It’s one thing to disagree, but the way we go about showing it is something I just can’t get my head around. Whether it’s the mess in Washington, DC (over just about anything really), the riots today in London, terrorism, or deep seated hatred that only exists for the sake of itself, I have to wonder if those who tell us to “grow up” have it all wrong.
I miss college, not because of the socializing, or the laid back atmosphere, but because of the one thing it seemed to offer that the real world doesn’t right now: hope.