Use college to be a better person

By Joshua Hoke

College is the place that most of us find “ourselves” in the most existential sense. We find our political leanings; some of us question the values that our parents instilled in us.

Our paradigms shift and change in the clamor of our academic pursuits. This becomes the proving ground for the people we are to become. I suppose that is why some of the perspectives that I run into are so grievous and impossible for me to feel positive toward.

College was always one stop on my way to be the person I want to become. But the fact that the bottom billion poor in our global society will never have this opportunity in my lifetime is never lost on me. And I really don’t have to look far into the world: Right here in Lexington I can find a large swath of folks who won’t have the opportunity of college afforded to them. Regardless of the reasons as to why that is, college is a privilege that I am grateful for.

It’s easy to lose perspective in America and it’s especially easy to lose perspective in the microcosm of Lexington. We have the best basketball, a gorgeous city and beautiful horses. When I run into attitudes of entitlement, it’s really hard for me to relate.

What I’m talking about is 18-21 year olds making bad decisions under the umbrella of their parents’ or the government’s money. I know that it’s true that we learn best from our mistakes. But how many weekend benders and missed homework assignments can you have before that becomes a pattern of failure to appreciate the absurdly privileged environment that people have worked hard to afford to you?

Perhaps the most egregious example of this is the students from wealthy backgrounds who can screw up royally and still have the means for it to be OK. There are plenty of examples of students who make mistakes, and that’s it. DONE. No more chances. No

“Well, I’ll just do better next time.” They won’t have a “next time” to do better. They won’t have the money or the time or the positive parenting to force better behavior.

I am not picking on the privileged, but I am singling us all out in the sense that we can do better.

I’m privileged. I’ll have an education and I’ll be competitive in the job market when I complete my degree. But with that privilege comes a deep conviction that the value I add to society needs to be greater than the value it took to get me here. In other words, I need to work that much harder to do well and achieve here.

I’m not entitled to my education, rather I’m thankful for it. I’m not contemptuous of my professors when I’m challenged. I’m grateful that I’m being honed into an educated individual that will be able to face the serious and daunting issues that our country faces here and abroad.

I could go on for days about all the issues that require a huge amount of time and investment to come up with good and innovative solutions. And yet somehow the focus of school becomes moronically shallow, completely immature relationships built on the drinking culture of college.

If you take a look at your friends and see that all they talk about is getting high, getting drunk and other worthless stuff, take that as a wake-up call that you, too, are becoming one more entitled miscreant, one more drag on society. I don’t mean you can’t work and pay taxes and be a “good person,” since apparently that’s all it takes. What I mean is that the problems of our world go a little deeper than you just meeting the status quo.

So be a future innovator and a problem solver.  Maintain the sharpness of honed skills it takes to become that and avoid the stupidity. Don’t ever see a problem and just complain about it. When you see a problem, become the solution.

College is the place where all of us choose to be the people we are going to grow up and become. And we are the future America.

We are tomorrow’s innovators and problem solvers.

Don’t squander a bright future on compromising decisions and cheap thrills. So to wrap this all up in a cliché, be who you are,unless who you are is an entitled, mindless, unquestioned soul, and in that case, choose to be better.

Joshua Hoke is a political science junior. Email opinions@kykernel.com.

Evie Russell says:

Joshua,
This is a great article that you’ve written to our students. I’m so glad it was published in the Kernel. All of what you said is so true. I’m afraid a lot of these students carry this mindset over from high school….and they need to remember college is the next chapter in their life the beginning of become a valued member of society.

Gret Job!