By INDIRA MOOSAI
College was the best four years of my life.
We’ve heard this saying countless times. It’s usually spoken by older adults who hear that you are in college and want to remind you to live it up. Think of going to your aunt or uncle’s house for a family gathering and somewhere in between “look how tall you’ve gotten!” and “how’s school going?” you’re bound to hear the phrase.
However, there’s a key mindset that contradicts this mentality: we go to college to make money.
Many believe the goal of college is to earn a degree, which leads to career opportunities, which then leads to financial stability. But in between these four years of undergraduate studies, many students lack this financial stability. In short, college students are broke.
We’ve all experienced a love-hate relationship with ramen (and The Grill. And the caf.) How then is college the best four years of your life? And why is financial stability stressed so much if this is the case?
Maybe college is a time for new experiences and experimentation. It’s a time where self growth takes place, and with all this chaos and excitement and uncertainty happening at once, people refer to it as the best four years of their life. Some of us take part in extracurriculars that shape us, even in ways that seems to be insignificant at the time, like volunteering or being part of an athletic team. For example, a volunteer may become so involved they may want to join the Peace Corps. Someone on the football team may win a Heisman trophy and end up playing professionally.
Alongside these extracurriculars, there are friendships and other relationships that blossom, and new discoveries about yourself that are now beginning to unfold. Some of these connections stick with you throughout your life. Of course it is going to be exciting.
Some may say this disproves the assumption that income and financial stability are as important to personal fulfillment and happiness as they seem to be. If money is supposed to buy happiness, how can the broke college years be the best and happiest ones? This goes to show that money isn’t as important to gaining happiness in your life as it seems to be.
Aristotle lists four levels of happiness: Laetus, happiness from material objects, felix, ego gratification, beatitudo, happiness from doing good for others, and sublime beatitudo, ultimate happiness. Certain types of happiness can be superficial compared to others. Deep gratification is only appreciated after the situation, as only after a person experiences something influential do they earn gratification. We always say “money can’t buy you happiness,” and this goes to show that.
Take for instance your childhood memories. A lot of parents take their children to Disney World when they are young kids. Sometimes these kids only have faint memories of Disney, but the ones that they do have stick with them because of how magical the whole experience is. Perhaps the rest of their lives they have a love for Disney, and maybe they will take their kids to Disney for that same reason. These experiences shaped you as a person in the same way college will shape you as a person. Only afterwards will you realize their effects.
Therefore, money and financial stability isn’t the ultimate goal of college. While it is part of it, a whole chunk that should be acknowledged for its importance is the connections and life lessons you learn. A person’s mentality is key to success.
Indira Moosai can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org