First off: I loved my high school experience. Really. I met some wonderful people, I have memories I’ll cherish forever. But let’s be honest, high school is exhausting and emotionally draining. If I ever hear someone say high school is the best time of a person’s life, I look at them like they’ve just told me that the third Toby Maguire Spiderman movie was the best of the trilogy. There are some opinions that just shouldn’t be valid.
I would like to acknowledge that everyone has a preference for what kind of environment they want in college, and those preferences will never be quite the same from person to person. For me, I wanted a change in someways and stability in others. My high school was small. My college is also small, very much by choice. I am also the only person from my class to attend this school, and in fact historically my school has only ever had a student attend my college once every two years. So I see someone related to my high school life in college once in a blue moon–it is sad sometimes, but also by design. Like I said, I appreciate everyone I used to go to school with, but I’d been with the same people since middle school and to continue the timeline of my life with people who could vividly remember my awkward stage (which honestly just never really ends) was not appealing.
Most of the people in my high school funnel into one of the several large state schools within a few hours of my hometown. It makes sense. Cheap tuition, great schools, closer to home–that’s the ideal situation. But even in large schools, having a couple dozen well-known friends at your fingertips as you try to navigate freshman year is going to mean your comfort zone is there and ready to be your security blanket.
I am an introvert. By nature if I were to be in an unfamiliar place with unfamiliar people, but with access to a few knowns in this sea of unknowns, I was always going to latch onto the knowns. So I forced myself to enter into a community that was a total mystery. Now I can say I have the mingling skills to take me very far in life, which seems to be one long stretch of mingling after mingling after mingling. I also avoided continuing a cycle I had going for myself in high school that was a vicious circle of self-doubt that I firmly believe was a product of the bubble I hid myself in for all of those years.
That’s not to say there are not wonderful benefits to going to a standard funnel-in school for my area. I seldom see someone around who has shared experiences pre-dating freshman year, and I can’t go up to someone and say, “Remember that time five years ago when…” if I need to reminisce. But, personally, I have found such a strong bond to the people who I now consider my best friends and co-workers that the pros exceed any con that nostalgia throws my way. Luckily, I do not have an unruly amount of nostalgia–not for high school at least.
It is a personal choice to make, and one deeply rooted in the emotions associated with the high school social scene. It’s a precarious plank to walk, and even the best of four-year high school runs can be tiring. Sometimes you just need a healthy change of scene to revitalize your zest for life and learning. That’s what I sought from my college, and that is why I went to such lengths to go hours away from the nearest familiar face. It helps me cherish them all the more in the couple times a year that I see them.