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My College Top Five

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Anjanique Barber College Readiness Diversity Illinois Oak Park The Belief Gap

My College Top Five

My College Top Five

All the things that we spent so much time stressing about since ninth grade don’t seem so important right now.

The all-consuming ACT and SAT scores don’t matter as soon as you get into a college you like. Your high school GPA will be hard to remember about a month after you finish your last class. The dates, dramas, dances, disappointments…they all start to fade.

That’s the funny thing about transitions. You stop being in the now and you start thinking about what your tomorrows look like. The familiar shrinks, and the unknowns loom larger than you ever thought possible.

My life in high school is coming to an end and another in college is about to begin. It’s a big queasy rush of emotion, like when your stomach hurts because you’ve eaten too much but you know you are still craving that Portillo’s cake shake.

I’m lucky. I’ve never had to worry about big problems in my life so far. Going to college will change that.

Here are the top five things I’m excited for in college:

  1.      Making new friends
  2.      Being in a new environment
  3.      Freedom from parents
  4.      Finding myself
  5.      Experiencing college life

And here are the top five things I’m most worried about:

  1.      Making new friends
  2.      Being in a new environment
  3.      Freedom from parents
  4.      Finding myself
  5.      Experiencing college life

The truth of the matter is, every single thing I yearn for also terrifies me.

Making new friends is fun and different. You meet people and gain friendships that can last a lifetime. And because you’re all starting off new, it’s only as awkward as you make it.

At the same time, making new friends is scary. I have never been more than four minutes away from a friend. For most of my life, my best friend lived down the block. It’s been easy to have a group of friends and not have to worry about it. Changing that up is intimidating.

Being in a new environment is something I’ve always been encouraged to relish, but not something I’ve had to experience much as a lifelong resident of Oak Park, Illinois. We are a liberal bunch, and we love to voice our opinions. Finding an Obama supporter in Oak Park is like finding a tree in a park.

Being in a new environment will mean some will experience no change and some will experience a huge one. Either way, we have to be ready and understand that not everyone will care about helmet safety as much as we do.

Freedom from parents. Sounds great, in theory. Teenagers inevitably have times where their greatest desire is getting away from their parents. But as much as not having to tell them where you’re going, or who you’re seeing, or what time you’ll be home sounds awesome, there are also the negatives.

Who will help you if you get sick? Your roommate might be great, but unless you luck out with a pre-med student, not many will stick around as you’re sitting on the bathroom floor waiting to hurl.

Who’s your support system when life is not going great?  My parents might piss me off one night, but I know they will be there when life is not going as planned. I also know they won’t kick me out if I can’t pay rent (I hope).

Finding myself. It will be a constant battle. Enough said.

Experiencing college is something I’ve always dreamed of. As it’s nearing, I’m getting excited. It’s the last part of my life that will stick to a plan. These four years of high school dragged on and flew by. Everyone tells you that’s how it will be, but you don’t believe it until it’s over.

Henry David Thoreau once said, “Things do not change, we change.”

I will change. I will grow. I will persevere. And I can’t wait for every second of it.

Anjanique Barber is a senior at Oak Park River Forest High School, where she is a pole vaulter on the track team and active in various student organizations.
What Is the Belief Gap?Too often, students of color and those who face challenging circumstances are held to lower standards simply because of how they look or where they come from. Close the Belief Gap →

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