The College Transition

Those of us who have begun college are likely quite familiar with the transition period between high school and college. It’s a time of self-discovery, but it can be daunting to the uninitiated. I write this at the end of my first quarter in college, and I remember being a high school senior, when I was unsure of what beginning college meant for me. My experiences this last quarter raised some questions for me, which through some exploration and research led me to the creation of the Perfection Principle. The Perfection Principle defines the idea that we, as humans, are driven to make ourselves into what we view as our best self. That is, we seek to perfect ourselves even though we are imperfect beings by definition. This can be seen in action when the majority of us new college students change and adapt to the people around us in order to fit in and make new friends at college.

In high school, I wasn’t particularly outgoing. I had lots of friends and was on good terms with people, but I rarely attended social events. When I was headed into college, I wanted to change this. I made it a goal of mine to get out and meet new people. I wanted to be more outgoing, so I made friends with people who were exactly that. Similarly, I found that other people I knew were doing the same thing; making friends with different kinds of people to help themselves become who they sought to be. One of my friends wasn’t very social in high school, but he got in one of the frats at his college of choice and has become one of the most outgoing people I know. This knowledge brought me to my initial hunch that if we desire to change ourselves, we can do so by the relationships we choose to form with others. However, it isn’t quite that simple.

As humans, it is in our natural instincts to adapt to the world around us. Our surroundings are constantly changing as we move through life. We meet new people and we move on to new places. Each time something changes like this we have to adapt. We make new friends and learn to accept new ideas. The transition between high school and college is one of the earliest examples of this transition phase in someone’s life, but it isn’t limited to just that. We will go through this transition phase again after college, when we move on to the working world. Even there, it is highly likely that more transitions will occur based on the events of an individual’s life. From the perspective of a college-bound, high school senior, it can seem like a lot of pressure trying to fit in with other college students. It isn’t an easy transition, but it isn’t one that we are going through alone. Every other college freshman is going through the exact same transition, trying to fit in and adapt to their new surroundings.

During my initial research on this topic, my greatest concern was finding exactly what drives us to change when we come to college, but I was instead led towards the Perfection Principle. New college students aren’t as unique in our opportunity to change as some colleges would have us believe. Coming to college is an opportunity for change, amongst many others. What I’m saying is that we all want to become our best self, and may be pressured to do so in a single transition phase, like coming to college. This isn’t possible since we cannot ever become perfect, but this drive for perfection is vital for our existence because it causes us to constantly seek to better ourselves. We will be provided multiple opportunities to take a step towards perfecting ourselves, and entering college serves as our first stepping stone as we seek to discover who we wish to become.

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