When I saw reports from a recent study that female seniors at Boston College lost self-confidence (opens in new tab) during their four years at the university, I found myself experiencing a diverse range of emotions: disappointed and confused, for starters, but most notably, uncharacteristically troubled.
Granted, I'm one to believe I had the absolute best college experience across which any 18-22 year old could have come. I graduated from my lovely alma mater with more than one hell of an excellent education, but with truly world-class best friends, extracurriculars, internships, and leadership roles under my belt that certainly moulded me into who I am now just as decidedly as did those 45-odd classes in which I was enrolled. I f*cking loved college, and I felt surreally fantastic about my time there when it was over.
The study, which was administered by Boston College's Office of Institutional Research, Planning and Assessment, is based on two surveys, one of which was taken by an unreleased number of incoming freshman students, and the second by graduating seniors. And while men gave themselves increased self-confidence evaluations at the end of their four years, females did the opposite.
Having been a college student not too long ago myself, there's many possible insecurity sources that immediately came to mind. Maybe it's because women are still making just 77 cents to every man's dollar (opens in new tab), and the prospect of even just finding a job, yet alone a decently-paying one, is alarmingly intimidating; maybe it's because the pervasive hook-up culture (opens in new tab) can understandably leave something to be desired; maybe the constant stress of heavily weighted academic work far outweighs any payoffs those assignments may bring; maybe one basement beer too many eventually transformed into one midsection pound too many.
But the numbers don't lie: In 2009, just 42.2-percent of Massachusetts 18 to 24 year olds were enrolled in some form of undergraduate education. Now I'm no statistician, but I'd like to trust that the remaining 57.8-percent would have been grateful to have received a higher education — especially that of the local Boston College's #31 national university ranking (opens in new tab).
Perhaps it's time we undergo an undergraduate reality check. College is incredibly expensive, 19-year-old boys can be really mean, landing your first job is difficult, and the stress of maintaining a high GPA should be a serious concern for your mental health. But college taught me how to hustle, sacrifice, work hard, love others, love myself, but most importantly, be overwhelmingly thankful for the personal growth I found and opportunities I received, regardless of adverse circumstances. No regrets.
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