Why Are You in College?
I am Casey Kellogg, a transfer student from Northwest Community College, where I worked in the writing center. I am a sophomore, majoring in English writing. As a tutor, I have always loved English, but I know for many students it can be a challenge. Throughout my time working at two writing centers, almost none of the students I’ve met have been English majors.
Instead, they come from a wide range of majors - science or business or even undecided - with most claiming to be “bad at writing” or simply in need of one more English credit to graduate. We’ve all been there: struggling through a prerequisite class that seemingly has nothing to do with our major, wondering why in the world we’re paying to learn about American literature during the 1800s.
For me, the answer to that question came from one of my students.
It was her first time at the MC Writing Center. From across the room, I could hear her telling the receptionist that she needed help with a personal narrative about why she was at college and what she hoped to gain from the experience.
At the time, I assumed her essay would outline her career path: the bright future her major promised, the job with demanding hours and ideal paycheck, the million diverging degree pathways that it would take to get her there. After all, that’s why we were all at college: for the possibilities that lay just beyond the classes, the tests, the essays, the 8:00 ams, and the all-nighters that seemed to last all year. And so when I asked her the inevitable question: “Why are you at college?,” I was sure I already knew the answer.
For a moment, she hesitated, her brows knitting together and her eyes narrowing, “I am here,” she finally said with resolve, “to learn.”
I waited for her to continue, assuming she hadn’t understood the question.
“Ok,” I encouraged, “Can you tell me more about that?”
Another pause before she began: “Learning is a way to… to be more than I am. I want to do that. I want to be more and know more than I do now. That is why I am here.”
I stared at her for a moment as it dawned on me that she was right. It was such a simple revelation: that college could actually be about learning… and learning about changing.
It was the simple idea that somewhere, amidst the tests and papers and sleep deprivation, there really was more to all of this than a degree.
The student may not have known it then, but by telling me why she was at college, she had reminded me why I am here as well. As college students, we all come for different purposes. For some it may be science, for others music or perhaps finance, and for others it’s the humanities. For some of us, writing may be at the center of our identities, and for others it may seem like a complete waste of time.
But if we are honest, we are all here for the same simple yet daunting purpose. We’re here to learn. To grow. To have the ability to empower ourselves.
And if that is true, any skill we learn is worth the effort it requires.
It is my hope that through writing this blog post, and through my job as a writing center tutor, I will encourage every student who may not enjoy English to approach writing as an opportunity to learn, to grow, and to continue on whatever journey college may bring.
You can schedule an appointment with Casey or any of our other wonderful tutors at https://mc.mywconline.com/ today!