Chaffetz: The College Opportunity

Answer these questions truthfully: Are you the best person you could be today? Are you becoming a better person every day? Are you working as hard as you could be toward your goals?

As college students, the majority of us can honestly answer these questions with a big “no”. We have just begun our young adult lives, and there is so much we have not experienced. The “real-world” our parents always warned us about has not yet come. Most of us don’t have careers, families, or life-long homes.


College is the first stepping-stone to that “real world”. And let’s get one thing straight: the “real world” is scary. It is scary to think about not getting a job after college. It is scary to think about paying rent on your own dime. It is scary to leave your parent’s “nest” once and for all.

Believe it or not, the whole concept of college is based on ensuring that the “scare factor” of the future is limited. And I believe a common perception among college students is the exact opposite. College is the enemy. We are forced to go to classes because our parents are paying for them and we will suffer the consequences if we don’t. Our professors overload us with work just for fun. The university forces us to take common core classes that have nothing to do with our major.

Well, I’m here to tell you that perception is ignorant and childish. College is an opportunity to acquire a skill set that will get you a job so you can pay rent and provide for your family. Not only that, you learn how to live on your own, how to manage money, how to manage your time, and how to build relationships—all in the absence of your parents. The value of these skills goes far beyond college.

But, here’s the catch…because doesn’t every thing has to come with a catch, right? The benefits of college only work if you do. And this is hard, considering most of us enter college and are basically chickens with our heads cut off. We all run around with this new found independence…we can eat as much food as we want, we can stay up as late as we want, and we can decide what we want to do when we want to do it.

And that’s the most challenging part about college. It is hard to find the discipline to stay in and finish a paper while your friends go out. It is hard to motivate yourself to go to your 8am when you have no one encouraging you to do so. It is hard to have the courage to walk into your professor’s office and talk about your grade. But that’s the truth about college. It tests your self-motivation.

So, I encourage every single one of you this year to make the most of your college opportunity. College is a special time when we can kick-start our lives for the better. We can define the type of person we want to be. We can surround ourselves with people who make us better. We can work hard in the classroom so that we have the opportunity to succeed in our future careers. We can make relationships with our professors who will help us in the future. And, most of all, we can start moving toward the answer “yes”.