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What College Means to Me: The Series – Bailey Mantzell

College – “the best four years of your life.” Sound familiar? While college is rightfully not for everyone, those who choose to go to college typically go with expectations of what is to come – rigorous or easy classes, Greek life, campus events, activities to do in the surrounding area, clubs to get involved in, dorm life, food, and campus culture. Once college becomes reality, expectations are then unmet, met, or exceeded and no one ever seemingly discusses how these play into peoples’ perception of college. My hope is to begin this open-ended discussion for prospective students before they step onto campus by interviewing students who have diverse opinions of college.

As I personally considered my answer to the question, “What does college mean to me?,” I enjoyed being able to look back on where I started, where I am headed, and how college has significantly impacted me in ways I could have never predicted.

I walked into my freshman year with little desire, excitement, or optimism for Grove City College, mostly due to unfortunate personal circumstances. Despite my involvement in Young Life, campus events, bible studies, and other opportunities, I found myself floating through freshman year and maintaining an existence, rather than a presence, on campus. There was no true place for me on Grove City College’s campus – I believed it. I found myself lost in my major, lost in community, and lost in direction. “College will be the best four years of your life” was seemingly becoming a lie that had greater impact on me, as I found myself struggling to enjoy my time spent at Grove City.

While I would love to share with you how my circumstances drastically changed, I would argue that the issue was not rooted in my circumstances as much as it was in myself. I never loved learning in a classroom; I never found my best friends; I never discovered the best four years of my life; I never achieved anything great; and I never truly felt like I found my place in college. What college did become to me was this, though: an opportunity for me to gain an experience that continually further equipped me to step into the Lord’s active calling for my life, the place where I learned that I do not have to achieve great things to achieve greatness in Christ, and the place where I also recognized that if I am, ultimately, living purposefully to be in the world but not of the world, belonging is not a part of that equation.

College – the most transformative four years of my life…a more accurate depiction of what college has meant to me.

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