The College Experience

Gail Harper


I like to brag about the fact that I was 16 when I started college. It makes people think that I’m really smart, maybe a genius child prodigy. Truth is, I just did Lewis and Clark’s dual enrollment program, which means I took college classes while still in high school. The credits from these classes counted for both my high school diploma and towards college. It’s given me a pretty awesome head start with my schooling, and exposure to a lot of experiences that have shaped and continue to shape who I am.

The college experience is something that’s talked about a lot, though its meaning differs greatly from person to person. For one student, the college experience may mean hookup culture, getting high, and being careless. For another, it’s all about preparation for the future. And I say, to each their own. However, It’s important to remember that the meaning for one person may change over time. It sure did for me.

When I started college at 16, my outlook for Math 116 and Computer Literacy was all about the grade. I was going to get an A, or…nothing. I was going to get the A. Now, being motivated for a good grade is, of course, a great mindset, and is an important goal for any student. But it can quickly become dangerous if that’s all you care about.

Math was never my strong suit, so Intermediate Algebra had me crying in my room out of frustration almost daily. Computer literacy, however, was a breeze (thanks, Mr. Robeen)! When all I cared about was the grade, it hindered me from having fun, and I got bogged down by the fear of getting anything below a 92 percent.

I ended up getting As in both classes. My initial college experience was fun to brag about, but I was also burned out by my first semester. So, my motto for the next semester became “C’s get degrees but A’s get scholarships, baby!” It became an inside joke between me and a friend in my biology class. She was the first real connection I made at this school. And so, my college experience began to shift.

By my third semester at LC, I was just having fun. I was confident that I’d get all A’s (which I did), and was enjoying meeting new people and genuinely connecting with them. Lewis and Clark is so full of genuinely good people, both faculty and student body, so my experience was focused more on making friends.

The spring 2019 semester brought me my first C (unsurprisingly in a math class). Granted, a lot was going on in my personal life that impacted my grade, but because I continued making those relationships with my peers, I kept going.

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