Students should carry their high school work ethic into college

Jack Moore

I remember it clear as day. Granted, it was only eight weeks ago, but still. My parents were about to depart after a lengthy orientation process when my mom looked right into my eyes and uttered the words, “Make good decisions.” Frankly, I didn’t really think much of her comment. I just sort of thought it was a hackneyed must-say for parents about to send their baby off to college. But once I was fully enveloped in the college lifestyle, I realized how important it is to heed her advice as I embark on this journey.

I consider myself very fortunate for the independent life that I was afforded in high school. My parents were very adamant about making grades, but so long as I kept my head down during the week, I could more or less do as I wanted throughout the weekend, within reason, of course. This routine was ingrained in me during the early parts of high school, and I hope this precept continues to stick with me as I further progress into adulthood—the idea that fun has to be earned. Now, I’m not saying that I am innately more mature than other students, rather I am saying that my parents instilled in me a foundation through which maturity is easier to attain. College is considered to be a time of intense growth predicated on a medium of newfound independence, but for me (and other students with lenient parents), this independence is not newfound. Because of this, the transition can be more easily managed.

It is in these next four years when you come to ascertain who you really are and what you really enjoy doing. These are two very meaningful things, the answers to which are not handed to you on a silver platter—you must discover them yourself, and you must do so via active experimentation. In high school, there was a third party (some combination of parents and academic advisors) ensuring that you do not stray from the path that they have outlined for you, but now the process is much different. Not only are you the only one keeping yourself aligned on the path, now you need to choose the path itself. I can tell you right now that the ample free time that you have on your hands is merely a paradox. It’s not free time in that you can simply throw up your feet and grab a beer. It’s free time in that you have complete autonomy in pursuing an activity that helps contribute to the development of your interests. That is where the anomaly lies, and that is what new students must recognize as they put their next foot forward. So, how are a lot of students dealing with this process in the first couple months? Not well.

I have found thus far that the independence is so vast for some kids that they simply don’t know how to handle themselves. Rather than exploring the multitude of activities, clubs and supplemental educational enterprises offered that enable self-discovery, they find themselves sitting in their dorm, watching Netflix and drinking more. “Bro, we’re obviously going to drink,” is a real response that I received at 5 p.m. on a Tuesday when that very student had a 9:30 exam the next morning. “Yea, we’re all good. We go to Villanova.” Yes, you do go to Villanova, and that is something that you should be very proud of and something that is very telling about where you stand as an intellect, but here’s the kicker: so does everyone else on this campus. This is not a place where you can coast and get by off natural intelligence, because everyone around you has that same natural intelligence complemented by the drive to succeed, and I assure you that you will be left in the dust, for they will win out every time.

My dad always used to tell me, “Eight years for the rest of your life,” meaning, work hard in high school, work hard in college and you will subsequently be rewarded with a well-paying job that will serve you for the rest of your life. However, there is a certain number of students that think that the foundation of their success has already been outlined for them, merely because they worked hard in high school and now have been accepted here. They are stuck in an eternal lull of self-congratulations and patting themselves on the back, assuming that everyone around them is just going to get on one knee and gift them anything they so desire merely because they have a Wildcard with their name on it. This is not how the real world works. The reason you worked so hard in high school was so that you could have access to some of the greatest resources that a college education can offer. Don’t squander what you have earned for yourself and don’t sabotage your development into adulthood. Students think that they will have success in the workforce merely because they can say they went to Villanova, but you know what’s more impressive than saying you went to Villanova? Saying you succeeded at Villanova.