College, From A Veteran’s Perspective
Well, like Charles Dickens famously said, “it was the best of times, it was the worst of times”; being a veteran in college is fucking awesome, but it also fucking blows.
First, the awesome- in college I’ve never moved 1500 sandbags across the motor pool only to move them back because good old CSM thinks they look better next to the shed; you don’t get yelled at for having your hands in your pockets when it’s cold; you are actually treated like an adult and don’t need permission to go to the doctor if you’re sick; you’ll more than likely be an of-age freshmen and can go to the bars legally; chicks totally love the whole veteran thing; if someone gets arrested over the weekend I don’t have to show up at 4am on Sunday over it; you appreciate all the freedoms and the education you’re receiving more than 99% of the kids you’ll be with.
And now, the other side- I don’t care who you are, you’ll never find friends like the ones you made in the service; you can’t punch the kid who says “yeah, well you’re going here for free, I have to take out student loans” in the throat; the food in cafeterias is comparable to your standard DFAC; you can’t lose your shit on the kid who starts bitching that the people at Starbucks messed up his pumpkin spice latte as if it’s the single greatest atrocity we’ve ever seen; every drunk idiot at every party you’ll ever go to will tell you he “thought about” joining, and if he did he’d definitely “dual wield machine guns and fuck up a bunch of terrorists” (it’s okay to hit this guy); people will think it’s perfectly okay to ask if you’ve ever killed anyone; again, you’ll never be able to bond with your new friends as deeply as those in the service; people care too much entirely about hurting everyone else’s feelings; you absolutely CANNOT make the same jokes you did in the military in college.
All jokes aside though, coming to college as a veteran is probably the single best choice I’ve ever made; I appreciate every single opportunity I’m given. I’ll admit it, had I gone right out of high school I would have performed mediocre at best. That said, every single day, even if its just for a few seconds, I have overwhelming regret for having left the service, but I also every day smile to myself when I realize I’m a civilian again. I’ll also admit I go to a college where most kids have $700 Patagonia alpine jackets but would die trying to camp on the lawn for a night, and dealing with them is at times absolutely infuriating. It’s also really hard putting up with how ignorant kids who’ve never witnessed hardship are.
I love college, and I’d do this exact same thing over again in a heartbeat, but sometimes I do wonder how I would have turned out if I stayed in.