When I was a kid, the idea of going to college was a long way off in the future. I would daydream about what my life would be like when I was a teenager, and what it would be like as an adult. And as the years stretched on, I eventually became a senior in high school, ready to explore the new life of being a college student. But what would college really be like?

Maybe it’s just me, but I was sometimes frustrated with school when I was growing up. I liked to learn new things, but I always felt limited because we had to study certain subjects, do certain activities, and have certain goals. We always studied math, history, science, and English, and if you wanted a challenge in a certain subject, you could take an honors class in that subject. There were also school sports, music, and clubs available to me, but sometimes they seemed narrow too.

I have to admit, those boundaries were good for me growing up, and they gave me the foundation I needed to be successful in college. But I loved to imagine going off to a university and being free from the limitations of high school.

College is a completely different experience from elementary and high school – different in all the ways I’d hoped. Here, you get to choose what classes you take and what activities to do. There are no limits! It is fulfilling to make your own schedule every semester, and to be able to take classes just because you’re interested in learning about something, and not because you have to. Finally, after years of having your school routine made by someone else, it’s your turn to call the shots.

I’ve found that I am interested in many different random things that I never would have thought I could take a college class in.  Although I have always been interested in science, I was also a kid who always had her nose stuck in a book reading about all sorts of things, even at dinner. In college, I’ve been able to balance my science courses with classes about writing and reading – ranging from the ancient world to science fiction. That’s probably my favorite part about being in college, especially a liberal arts college: I get to meander through different subjects and learn about things like Asian religions in one class and photosynthesis in another.

Don’t get me wrong – college isn’t all fun and games. Having control of your own education also means a lot more responsibility. You can take the classes you enjoy, but you also have to make sure that you take the classes you need to graduate. That said, I’ve found that college has made me a better student. Knowing that I am here, in college, to learn and grow and get a good education motivates me to try my hardest in the classes I choose to take. It feels good to challenge myself and see how far I can go.  And if I’ve learned anything so far, it’s that nothing is out of reach if you work hard and stay focused on your goals.