College didn’t come first for me

Anusha Vadlamani | Staff Writer

My dream has never been college. 

When my parents immigrated to the United States in 2000, it wasn’t to build a better life for themselves — it was to build a better life for me. They wanted me to live life in a country where I would be able to choose my own path. Where I would be able to follow my own dream. And I have an immeasurable amount of gratitude for that. 

My parents have given me the freedom to determine my own future. But as far as they’re concerned, that future has always and will always involve college. And in the back of my mind, I’ve always known that I am going to college. I’ve just never had the option to choose not to.

Once upon a time, way back in middle school, I wanted to see the world. I wanted to explore every inch of the earth, wanted to see every last thing that nature had to offer. My plan in middle school was to travel an exotic destination and just live there for the rest of my life. Which of course, I now realize, is less than realistic. 

But that’s what I wanted to do. My dashboard was filled with bookmarked one-way tickets to Finland and Sweden, and every other destination imaginable. I spent hours poring over National Geographic magazines, dog-earing the pages with the prettiest places. 

But then high school happened, and suddenly my one-way tickets were replaced with online textbooks. 

Slowly but surely, my parent’s dream for me was morphing into a semblance of the dream that I once could call my own. Some part of me really does want to go to college, but an even bigger part of me wants to live a life where I am completely in control. So many of my friends and family have wasted their lives away to fulfill a degree that they don’t have a use for. 

The entire college experience has drained them of their energy and motivation. But in the end, they’re working high-paying, prestigious jobs. So, for as long as I can remember, to me, college meant success. It didn’t really mean happiness. 

But here I am in high school, taking classes that I hate because I think they’re going to guarantee me the best shot at college admissions. My only motivation? My parents gave up so much of their lives to make sure that I can live the one that I want to. It’s only fair that I fulfill their dreams for me. Right?

People say to always follow your heart, and my parents will always hold the biggest place in my heart. So I guess I’m going to college, and maybe I’ll realize that it’s not for me, but at least I’ll have tried. 

At least my parents will see their dreams come true. I will see the world one day, but for now, I’m going to college.