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Kelleen Cullison

Choose Your Own Education

by Kelleen Cullison | Oct 06, 2016

There comes a time in life when independence seems like a burden, and in college, those times can come multiple times a day. You have to do your own laundry, make sure you’re eating right so you don’t get sick, go grocery shopping, do homework, and most importantly, keep remembering to do all these things. There’s no one hovering over your shoulder, or shouting down the hall, asking that you wake up, or reminding you about your Spanish paper tomorrow. It’s completely up to you to manage your own life.

I’ve managed this so far by keeping things relatively routine. If I have any homework at all, I don’t go out. I do laundry every other weekend. I go to the same clubs to ensure I have enough time to do my homework each week. And by getting all of my homework done, I can calm my anxiety enough to take a step out of my comfort zone, and try something new. In this way, I’ve managed to keep relatively good grades without feeling like I’m missing out on my college experience.

This week, I was faced with a decision that challenged my safe philosophy. As a first year, there are certain activities I am required to meet outside of the classroom. Often times, they are events you can pick and choose that you want to go to, but the Career Expo was non-negotiable. This worked out just fine for me, of course, falling right into my routine of doing exactly what I’m supposed to. However, another opportunity popped up soon after, to travel to Indianapolis for a Moral Revival event, to hear leaders speak on social issues. It hadn’t occurred to me to ask to go because I knew it was on the same day as the Expo, but a friend of mine, also a first year, got permission from our first year seminar professor to attend the Revival instead. On an extraordinary whim, I signed up last minute, and convinced myself that it was okay, because I wouldn’t be the only one to miss the Expo, and reminded myself I could go next year.

When that same friend bailed out last minute, I panicked. No one I was close friends with was going on this trip. I would be leaving campus, and wouldn’t be back until late, with a stack of homework waiting for me. I couldn’t decide what I wanted to do, and even when my friends implored me to just stay home, I couldn’t make up my mind.

I had about an hour left till departure when I decided just to go for it. The professional positions listed for the Career Expo didn’t appeal to me, and the revival, unlike the Career Expo, wouldn’t happen every year.

So I rode in a minivan for two hours, and met up with some people I didn’t know, had a very pleasant dinner with them, and went to the Revival. I may not have left campus with any close friends, but I’d like to think I returned with some. And yes, I did get back very late, and my anxious mind was trying to figure out when homework was going to be done, and how I’d be able to get up for class in the morning, and all I could really bring myself to do was go to bed.

This was my decision, and I’m very glad I made it, because I learned more about my situation here at college than I think I did from the Revival, which is saying something. It hit me that a college education doesn’t just happen in the classroom. I didn’t have to go to the Moral Revival, but because I did, I know more about our economic and social standing here in America. I know that gas station coffee can be just as good as any coffee if it’s late enough, and I learned not to hinder my education into a routine. That’s high school. That’s mandatory education. College was my choice, this education was my choice, and if getting the most of that means I have to stray from my comfortable routine, struggle to finish homework or get up in the morning, and even miss out on another opportunity, like the Career Expo, I’ll do it. Because learning what you choose to learn is a college education. Besides, there’s always next year.

Kelleen Cullison ’20 is pursuing an English major and minors in Journalism and Peace Studies. She hopes to work as an editor for a publishing company, and hopes to help current and prospective Manchester students avoid the mistakes she is currently making.