Peril and Power of College

By Julian Finholm

The life of a college student is one of life’s more complicated stages. On one hand, it’s bound to be boring as you spend most of your time being forced to do things you don’t wish to do, like essays and exams. On the other hand, it’s quite a strength-building chapter in your life when you put in the effort towards getting things done. These character-building challenges can make anyone better at adapting to challenging topics, improve on interests that they are eager to improve on, and, hopefully, find something to enjoy about the schoolwork. It’s done wonders for me.

When it comes to challenging topics, many came about during my days at Tacoma Community College. In an English class, I learned about the racial injustice issues plaguing America in the documentary “13th”. Although I’m a politically-neutral person, I didn’t want to fail the class, so I pushed myself to watch the documentary. While the documentary unsettled me, I learned a lot, especially from the perspective of people who are deeply disenfranchised and abused due to things they have no control over. The documentary also angered me as it showed how the people in charge abused their power over others, therefore adding to the many problems in the world today. This experience taught me to fully confront uncomfortable subjects so I can better adapt to the changing social situations around me. Another tool I got from the experience was the ability I have to be more respectful and more aware of what to do when adapting to these kinds of problems. 

Aside from adapting to various problems, doing my schoolwork has also improved my craft as a writer, my preferred way of expressing myself. The English essays I’ve gotten back popped many a bubble in my brain that my writing was good as it was and didn’t need editing. For example, one professor returned a paper with a comment pointing out that this paper was unchanged from when I turned in my previous draft. The comment made me realize I didn’t double-check my paper’s missing details and misspellings when I turned it in for submission. This is when I realized how important editing is to the writing process. This experience taught me that I need to pay close attention when writing whatever I happen to be working on. If I rush these things, I’ll never become as good of a writer as I want to be. I want my stories to be as polished and concise as they can be, so editing is very important. I want them to communicate what I want to say, and I don’t want it to be lost in translation because of editing errors. Basically, I want to be the best writer I can be, so I want to be the best student I can be.

When I’m working on things I like to do, my mind is alert and always eager to put my thoughts to paper. For a class I took at the University of Puget Sound last year, I wrote about my hometown of Gig Harbor and how it celebrated Halloween connected with the wider traditions of Halloween itself. I loved that assignment so much because I got to connect my creativity with my education. That’s because I wrote about what I loved in a school setting. Not only that but sharing that part of myself with my peers allowed me to bring some happiness into their world as well as mine.

So, yes. I’ve found great expression through my schoolwork. I’ve grown mentally stronger. I’ve improved what I’m good at. Not to mention all the joy I’ve found in schoolwork. It makes me proud to be a good student as I can do my work and be who I am at the same time. If I can do this, so can everyone else. As I said before, taking schoolwork more seriously, as I did, can help others improve themselves, and also learn something about themselves not known before.