Reflection Essay About Education
I grew up in a divorced family as the youngest of three children and the only daughter. Whether anyone likes to admit it or not, broken families create kids that love to excel in one thing; for me, that thing is education. The desire to prove myself has driven me to stand out in school and sports and has inspired me to develop skills that would put me ahead of the majority of my peers. During this process, I came to be an individual who yearns for greater things. I have always wanted to be top of my class, to be a multi-sport athlete, to be a good daughter, sister, and friend, and- most importantly- graduate college and pursue a fulfilling career. So, for me, the question is not “why am I in college,” but instead “how could I not be in college?”
I believe there is a difference between college and education. My idea of education is very strict and arguably excessive. Education is the structure in which one receives instruction on a particular topic in order to progress knowledge. College is simply the place in which that process occurs. When I think about education, I envision a program that provides me with professors that educate me proficiently and support me when necessary. I expect it to test my willpower- to break me down, build me up, exhaust me, fulfill me, and provide for me. To me, the idea is terrifying yet irresistible. I want to be forced to depend on myself rather than requiring attention from outside influences. On the other hand, college exists in my mind as a nurturing environment that advocates for personal growth and opportunities. It is a place where I meet friends who have more in common with me than just being from the same hometown, where I learn to make sure my prescriptions are filled on time, and where I am the sole decision maker on what I do everyday. The four years I spend at this institution will provide the structure necessary to understand how I function effectively and will set me up for success in my adult life. Additionally, the opportunities offered here such as accelerated classes, seminars on differences in beliefs and how to respect varying opinions, organizations that promote student voices, and events created for the sole purpose of unifying students all work together to build an individual's sense of self. By utilizing these opportunities, I am more likely to be proud of who I am now and have hope for who I will be in the future. Without college, I could still receive an education, but I would be missing out on an experience to learn about and better myself.
I would be remiss not to acknowledge that there are exceptional job opportunities available through paths other than college; for me, though, I would be failing my younger self- the one who worked tirelessly to be top of her class, the one who dreamed of going to medical school with hopes of becoming a doctor to satisfy her need to help others- if I did not chose this route. On top of that, school has been one of the few consistent things in my life. It provides me with a structure that encourages setting expectations for myself that hold me to a higher standard and push me to perform at a higher quality. Additionally, school has helped me develop positive work habits and personal characteristics. Throughout the past 13 years that I have been a student in the education system, I have learned how to be a good peer, a leader in the classroom, and a positive role model around campus. The traits that I have acquired through being a student directly affect how I perform as a friend, employee, family member, and scholar. Most importantly though, I have learned to strive for something greater than myself. I used to dream about the possibility of being a doctor and caring for others; I now take action steps towards making that dream a reality. In all seriousness, receiving an education is the only way that I could follow through with this career path and satisfy my desire to help others. School not only shaped who I am right now, but it also actively helps me create who I want to be in the future.
I have been pondering how to make connections between the academic knowledge I have gained and my personal advancements and it is proving more difficult than anticipated. Of course, I could talk about how my spanish class has pushed me to be more aware of cultural differences and how to appreciate another language, but that idea does not adequately represent the extent of the relationships that I have built. As I sit here trying to connect the dots between two ideas that are not clearly associated to me, one idea keeps invading my thoughts: truth. I may not understand how blackbody radiation has helped me develop as a person, but it is clear that the habits I have picked up through my classes helped me to become more self aware. Learning how to effectively communicate with my professors and classmates has opened my eyes and allowed me to be more truthful with myself. By understanding how to determine what problems I have, whether it be related to a class, a group project, or an individual assignment, I have been able to formulate ways to keep myself on track. I know that if I have an issue, taking a step back and realizing what the trigger is and how to handle it is much more effective than trying to push through and ultimately creating a weak piece of work as a result. The idea of truth is a crucial lesson to learn early on in college as it directly relates to successful communication and adequate completion of tasks.
Another concept that I have truly experienced over the past four months is that not everything goes as you expect it to. Yes, I have had my fair share of curveballs thrown straight at my face, but college has introduced this idea in a new light. In my FILA 150 class, we studied an excerpt of Anne Patchett’s commencement speech titled What Now?. In the piece, Patchett describes a seemingly series of unfortunate events in which she struggled to understand her purpose as she went through undergraduate and graduate school, and multiple waitressing jobs. It was not until she took over the dishwashing station at a T.G.I Fridays that she finally put the pieces together. Despite spending four years getting a degree in a subject she appeared to be interested in, failing to pursue a career immediately after graduation and losing attention and respect from her family and peers, Patchett eventually determined the path of her future and is now a well-known, established author. The point is: Anne Patchett never expected to unlock the mystery to fix her stagnant nature by failing multiple times- she expected to know exactly what she wanted to do right when she got to school so she could formulate an answer to please her “entourage.” As quoted from her text, “the secret is finding the balance between going out to get what you actually want and being open to the thing that actually winds up coming your way.” I have been able to apply this idea to my own experience by attempting to expect less and learning to adapt to the circumstances when things do not pan out as I had planned. Anne Patchett encouraged me to reconsider my current mindset and use the creative process to find different ways of doing things, different outcomes, and different points of view.
Reflection is a necessary step in the route to success. By understanding how the successes and failures that have resulted from your past decisions affect you today, you allow yourself to make conscious decisions for a better future. Personally, I have utilized reflection to understand that receiving a degree in biology from an undergraduate institution is the most sure way to achieve my goals. Additionally, I have taken the time to differentiate my idea between education and college which, in turn, allows me to have a more progressive and positive mindset. Believing that there is room for both strict education and opportunities for personal growth on my campus directly translates into becoming a more well rounded individual that will succeed in multiple aspects of life after college. In the end, the first semester of my freshman year has thrown curveballs at me and forced me to reconsider my position and my purpose, and it has encouraged me to reflect on my “why” and redefine my expectations for myself and the institution that I am enrolled at. I want to learn, form lifelong friendships, solidify my future career path, and, most importantly, understand how accepting my truth can allow me to turn into the person that I want to be in the future.