Ryan Chartrand

“When you get into a good college, we will pay your way through.”

That was a common promise that would escape my parents’ lips every so often when I was in high school.

Any time when the subject of college would arise, the stress of college tuition and the price of textbooks, parking passes and housing fees were part of the distant future.

Oh how fast the future changes.

When college came speeding at me at 1,000 miles per hour, I was hit with the reality that my parents’ promises were more like wishful thinking. The truth was, I would be stacked with student loans and pointless credit card debt by the time I was halfway through my college education.

So I got to thinking; is a lifestyle of grasping responsibility and maintaining a decent-paying job a must during college, or should students (if plausible) be able to take a free ride and make their college education their No.1 priority?

There are some negatives and positives to both sides. We’ll start with my very own experience.

I work six to seven days a week and attend an average of 14 units of class, all while trying to maintain a social life and a healthy lifestyle, which thanks to the latter is almost nonexistent.

I find myself feeling so stressed that I swear I could possibly have aged 20 years by now. I often find myself wondering if there is a gray hair hiding around somewhere.

However, despite how much more pressure I feel taking on my own responsibilities, I believe it is what has better prepared me for the shock of life to come.

Sure, if I were able to be worry-free and hand over my bills to my parents, I would have more time to go out, relax and spend my time making sure every bit of my homework is done just right.

But would I learn the proper responsibility needed for the moment I get thrust into this “real world” everyone warns me about?

College provides the essential education we need for surviving against all odds; taking on your own responsibilities such as paying bills, learning to cook for yourself and filling up your own gas tank teaches us lessons entirely unlike anything else can.

Even with something as minor as a cell phone payment, we can take away valuable lessons.

When we wake up to find our cell phone no longer turns on because it has been shut off due to a late payment or perhaps a nonexistent one, we will learn how to fix the issue on our own without the help of our parents.

They cannot hold our hands through life forever, right?

There are lessons that only growing through life can teach us. I say take them on when you best feel ready. For me, college was a good place to start.

Now I am not saying jump right in and drown yourself in all the anxiety due to responsibility, but I do advise taking baby steps.

Start with a part-time, easy-going job, make time for a social life, and take fun, interesting classes. With proper planning and organization, a balanced life is possible.

The best education we can be given is the one we teach ourselves.

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