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September 1, 2013

Sunday Driving, Not Arriving

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This has been my best week at Clark.  Ever.  And because this week was the first week of my fourth year here, I think that’s a statement that deserves some explanation.  So let’s get going, because you, dear reader, are sitting here wondering about what a best week at Clark ever looks like.  This place might become your home for these next four, incredibly critical years of your life, and you want to know it well.

This was my best week at Clark, ever, because I’ve finally come back to terms with being a work in progress.  When I was your age (or your child’s age, in the event that you’re a parent reading this) I was a fairly terrible and apathetic high school student.  I had lots of friends, yes, and strong relationships with my teachers, but I was unmotivated and fundamentally didn’t do the work.  As a result, I had an extremely tough college application process and fell into Clark’s lap haphazardly, without any real interest in or knowledge about the place.

Once I arrived, I decided to change, and devoted myself single-mindedly to becoming, fully and completely, a perfect Clarkie.  I worked my butt off on schoolwork, and succeeded there.  I jumped straight in to campus life, and got involved in every way I could.  I didn’t allow myself to be imperfect, because I felt I couldn’t be.  And I was successful, but boy was I stressed as well.  There was, quite simply, no room for error.  I had to prove to myself that I could succeed, and in every possible way.

So how is that a bad thing?  And how does it relate to you, the high school senior (or very pro-active junior)?  Well, it’s a bad thing because it’s not sustainable.  You can’t take an eighteen-year-old and expect them to be a perfect human right away.  (Heck, you probably can’t take a fifty-year old and do that, though I don’t know that for certain yet and I’ll check in with you in a few decades.)  The best you can hope for is to keep on growing and to love the change you’re living in yourself.  

No matter how you’re thinking about Clark right now – whether you love it and couldn’t imagine applying anywhere else, or whether your child has no interest in Clark and you’re reading this to find out more on their behalf - it’s worth remembering that the college search process isn’t entirely about finding a place that fits with the person you are now, at eighteen.  It’s about finding a place that’ll stay with you and grow and change with you over the next four years of your life and, if you’re lucky, for well beyond that.

The title of this post is a quote from what is (in my opinion) the only worthwhile song on the Beatles’ weakest album, Let It Be. (Take a listen, if you’d like.)  ”We’re Sunday driving, not arriving …”  It’s just my opinion, so take it with a grain of salt, but you’ll have many more great weeks at college if you see it as a road you’re driving on, not a place you’re going to.  ”Not arriving …” … yet.

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