College can be a scary shift from high school. Teachers tell you that high school prepares you for college, but it really doesn’t. College isn’t in the same ballpark, which isn’t always a bad thing! There’s less busywork, way more clubs, and infinite opportunities to better yourself. For me, college has been a vast improvement to my life - high school was a nightmare. That doesn’t erase the reality of how little we are prepared for college, though.
In high school, you’re told you read certain books and study certain subjects because it’s preparing you for college or the “real world.” I was forced to read Their Eyes Were Watching God, The Things They Carried, “The Crucible”, and other things I probably don’t remember. In the three years I’ve been in college, none of the works I’d been forced to read in high school have aided me in my English studies.
In contrast, I never had to read 1984 in high school - something almost every English professor thinks is taught in high school. I wasn’t handed Jane Austen at any point in my public school career, or any Shakespeare, or any Dickinson or Poe! None of these iconic Western pieces of literature which are considered to be staples in the study of literature!
I’m sure this is applicable to any field of study. History, sciences, math, and even languages. Not to mention the complete glossing-over of any business, economics, or philosophical studies in public education. There’s a gaping chasm of untouched material in all subjects between high school and college. Most people go to college and feel out of their depths at their “unpreparedness” - and it feels like our fault! We didn’t study enough, we didn’t work hard enough, we weren’t dedicated enough. Always the fault of the student.
However, I’m here to tell you that it’s not your fault. The fact that we, students, don’t know some of the most important aspects of our fields of study until we reach higher education (where it’s treated as expected knowledge), is the fault of the curricula that neglected to teach us about them. You’re not stupid, and you’re not a failure! And while this doesn’t fill the gap of knowledge for you and everyone else, it’s a relief to realize that it’s not our fault. We do study enough, we do work hard enough, and we are dedicated enough.
So the next time you’re overthinking the fact that you never read Wuthering Heights, didn’t know everything about the Khmer Rouge, don’t really get statistics, and know nothing about business, economics, or philosophy, pause and wonder why you blame yourself. It’s only then that we can begin to forgive ourselves for something we never did.