I could tell you, but then I?d have to kill you. Or, a bit more precisely: I could tell you, but you wouldn?t listen to me anyway.

If you had told me as a freshman how I would feel as a departing Take-Five, or even that I would have taken five years to complete an undergraduate degree, I would have been very surprised.

But if I could do college over again knowing what I know now, I might have made different decisions, but I could never have that knowledge without having done college the way I did.

Let me explain.

For the majority of my fifth year, I tried to do things I?d never done before. I was suddenly struck by the fact that I was leaving, and that even though I had been a student for five years I still didn?t know everyone in my graduating class, had read a bare minimum of the books in the River Campus Libraries? collections, had spoken to professors as sparingly as possible.

Part of the learning and maturing process involves internalizing the motivation. When I was a freshman, I didn?t know why I was here, except that I didn?t really know that there was anywhere else. No one asked me as a high school senior whether or not I was going to college ? they just asked me what college I had chosen.

Once I was here, it took me a while to realize what, exactly, was the privilege that I was paying four years of my life for ? because in my fifth-year wisdom I know that time is more valuable than whatever amount you do end up paying to attend UR.

Maybe now I wouldn?t have chosen to stay up all night with my friends. Maybe I would have had more of a dedication to those activities, i.e. studying and sleeping, that would have contributed more significantly to staying awake in class.

But then I would not have met the wonderful people who, because of their help, made me the person I?m proud to be today.

And that?s part of the challenge ? learning to appreciate the resources and opportunities before the chance to use them is gone.

That?s the kind of skill that I will take with me for the rest of my life. It?s what makes me bound out of bed in the morning, eager to start doing something ? although like that immature freshman, I still fall asleep any time I?m in a vaguely seated position for longer than 10 minutes.

But it?s the knowledge that the learning doesn?t have to stop that makes me feel secure.

What did I learn at UR? Although I learned many things in the classroom, I am now equipped to study on my own. Formally, through reading and discussion with all the people I meet. Informally, by absorbing and learning from all the sources that surround us ? art and literature and television and people and everything.

What else do I know? I know it will be so great. I?m excited to graduate, even though I want to stay and learn more. The learning never stops. Not until I do.

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