Happy Right Here

If you Google the word “college” or “university,” Harvard University is always among the top search results. In fact, Harvard always comes to mind when people think about college, no matter what the context. Maybe that girl in your physics class is saying, “I’ll never get in to Harvard,” or maybe your roommate has always wanted to work for the Harvard Crimson. Either way, Harvard constantly accompanies thoughts of college. The fascination with college lies in people’s preoccupation with the future. Most parents want their children to be happy, and in today’s culture we often associate happiness with economic success. This success is strongly correlated with education. If you were to ask people in a crowded room what they want to accomplish in the future, don’t be surprised if more than one person answers you, “Make bank.” I agree that money provides the stability and security needed to do the things that’ll actually make us happy. However, I feel that laying that responsibility on college and college alone paints a skewed picture. Dangling that future in front of kids in high school, just as one might tempt a mule with a carrot to keep it moving forward, throws things out of perspective. At Andover, we work very hard to do well academically, athletically, artistically and socially. It’s an incredible balancing act that we all struggle with and one that most people never perfect before they graduate. And so arises a question that was asked at Flagstaff’s Cluster Council a few weeks ago and one that I’ve yet to answer myself: Do we come to Andover for the experience or to get into a good college? Each person has a different answer to that question. Maybe you came for the experience and stayed for the chance to get into college, or vice versa. But regardless of why you came, it’s good to remember that if you are at Andover, you’re lucky to be here. This institution is so incredible in that it lets us believe that pushy library proctors and parietal hours are actually important issues. The fact of the matter is, even if you don’t go to a name-brand college, your future is still very bright, and you can still do great things. Colleges and universities do not determine what happens to us, nor do they determine how happy we will be. In fact, one of Harvard’s most popular courses is one entitled, “Positive Psychology” that teaches its students happiness. If Harvard students have to learn happiness, how great is it anyway? Stacia Vladimirova is a three-year Upper from Holland, PA.