This post originally appeared August 21, 2014, as a column in the Shamokin News Item, by Jenna Wasakoski, PCA&D '99, who wrote it to encourage a young friend who was embarking on her own college experience. Jenna.is an assistant editor at The Shamokin News-Item. Jenna says, “My degree and what I learned at PCA&D was very valuable” Since graduating from PCA&D with a degree in communication arts, she has won two Keystone Press Awards, a contest sponsored by the Pennsylvania NewsMedia Association, for page design. Her weekly column runs in various news publications throughout the state. Original story: http://newsitem.com/arts-living/great-things-await-you-1.1739001
Great Things Await You - Part 1.
We leave our adolescence in our high school lockers and sometimes that's a scary thing. You would think high school would never be missed - all the annoying rules and regulations, getting up early every morning, having to deal with teachers and underclassman, having to ask permission to use the restroom. Ugh. High school is just the worst.
Until the realization sets in that you're never going back and you find yourself longing for something you never knew you enjoyed. The routine we can't wait to get rid of is, in hindsight, a very safe place.
Change is scary.
Some will go on to trade schools, some will find work through other means, some will live with and sponge off their parents until they're 50, but the majority of your graduating class will attend some kind of college or university.
It's the first taste of sweet freedom and for some, it's surprisingly bitter.
I was pretty satisfied with my higher education decision. I visited many campuses before I decided to go to a smaller school in Lancaster. I just wasn't into the whole "life on campus" deal. I didn't want to live in a dorm. I didn't want to join a sorority. I didn't want to date a frat guy. I didn't want to play college sports. For some people, that's what it's all about, but I felt like I just came from a "cookie-cutter environment" and I needed a playground for individuality.
I found that in Pennsylvania College of Art and Design. The school was housed downtown in a very industrial-style building. There were about five floors the school utilized and, for me, that was a good fit. It was staffed with creative types from all walks of life. It felt right, it even felt like home. I couldn't wait.
Or could I?
Cue the dramatics.
I thought I was so cool for going to college and moving out of my parents' house, but the truth is, I cried so hard the week before I left, I think my parents had to run the sump pump in the basement.
My excitement turned to fear and I was terrified. It was going to be different and I didn't like it.
After all the rushing of trying to become an adult, I felt myself grasping for the e-brake. I liked my life. My dad paid the bills. My mom did my laundry and fed me. My room was just recently repainted a very nice shade of yellow. I had a cat named Zima. My friends were all minutes away. College? Why would a person do such a thing?
I was in complete shambles. I cried while I packed, I cried on the way there. I cried when I got there. I was much more becoming a yard sprinkler system rather than a college student.
But I sucked it up.
I was set up with a roommate through the college and we got along OK. We were both unique, neither of us were serial killers and we both liked a lot of the same things so it was a decent deal.
The first year, I came home every weekend. It was a two-hour trip, but had it been a six-hour trip, there would have been no difference. I missed my friends. I missed Shamokin. I missed going out the mountains - people who I met in college didn't even really know what that meant. I missed my parents. I missed my room. I missed my life in general.
Eventually, I was doing well in my courses and I made a good handful of friends who were just as silly as I was. My loyalties still were back home with my "real friends," but these friends would do, just to get me through.
Fast forward to present-day, I still talk to most of my college friends on a semi-regular basis. They're all important people in my life. We had a lot of great times and occasionally get together for more. Anyway, as I got deeper into school, slowly, things started to shift.