Published: Granite Bay Gazette Vol. 19, Issue 6. Friday, March 4, 2016.
When most driven students or college alums are questioned about the reasoning for their desire to continue their education, undoubtedly most will give responses which relate to job opportunities, money-driven aspirations and parental requirements or personal gain. What many overlook, however, is the sheer value of gaining perspective.
Prior to the summer of 2015, California seemed – to me – to be the most progressive state, the most liberal, open-minded, advanced and certainly the least crime-laden. I have always lived in Granite Bay, and since realized that my mindset was simply based upon my own hometown, in addition to my experiences in the more affluent but open-minded cities in which my relatives live, which include Santa Monica, San Luis Obispo and the wealthier parts of Los Angeles.
When I was chosen to attend Girls State, a week-long mock-government program in the summer, I expected a heavy amount of challenging work, campfire songs and hot weather, but the most significant thing I received from that week was the gaining of new perspective.
The second day of Girls State was Picture Day, where each girl was required to wear either a solid red or blue shirt. As we walked over to the designated picture area, I noticed one girl who was wearing a shirt more orange than red.
I assumed she either did not care or did not own a red shirt – how silly, I thought, not to own even one red or blue shirt. However, I quickly discovered the girl I had noticed was one of at least a dozen California residents whom I would hear of that did not own any solid blue or red clothing for their own safety.
Several girls remarked how weird it was to not only wear solid reds and blues, but to be around these colors and not feel endangered. This is because in their hometowns the colors of red and blue are gang-affiliated.
One girl I befriended who lived in Stockton semi-jokingly remarked on a personal social media platform that it would be hard for her to tell the difference between Fourth of July fireworks and gunshots. Another girl described an instance where she had bought blue shoelaces which were quickly banned by her school because of worries for gang-affiliation.
I know that when the graduating class of 2016 embarks on life after high school – whether that be at a college or otherwise – we will all be in for a huge culture shock. And that is what I am most looking forward to.
It’s not that I dislike the area I grew up in, because I understand and recognize how lucky I am to have grown up in such a secure town. But although I am looking forward to college for academic reasons – sharpening my abilities and actively learning – I also cannot belittle the opportunity to grow personally, in maturity and experience.
What gets often overlooked when college is advertised to students is the change that college has on individuals – often serving as an almost necessary period of self-discovery. I have watched my family members and friends go to college and return as almost a new person.
Life after high school needs to be about self-reflection, or else what experiences and standards does one have to understand the world around them but their youth? Examine and explore the experiences of others, thus maturing the soul.