By Alex Ybarra

Sometimes I think about the people that I graduated high school with and I wonder what they are doing now. I know that many of my former classmates went on to study at prestigious schools all over the country, but more often than not, I think about the ones who did not move on to college.

I am curious about the reasoning behind their decision. There are numerous justifiable reasons for one to not attend college, but I believe that if given the opportunity, one ought to go. I believe it is the best experience any individual can have in their lifetime.

High school graduation is a major achievement as it entails a decision about the next step. There are several options that can be considered such as attending college, a trade school or enlisting in the military. Depending on the person, these are all viable options.

My childhood best friend serves in the Navy Special Forces and we talk on occasion to catch up on each other’s lives. He tells me about his crazy war experiences, but he often enjoys hearing about my college experience because he finds it to be more interesting than serving in an active war zone.

I remember my first day of classes and how excited I was. What stuck out the most to me was the pretty campus, the pretty girls and the parking warning on my windshield. However, the classes were fun and the professors were engaging. I genuinely felt like I was learning, and for the first time in the long time, I liked waking up to go to school.

The campus is full of clubs and organizations. Each semester I find myself joining something new because I enjoy finding opportunities to learn. My first semester, I joined Alpha Tau Omega and that has led to several other opportunities. I have also been apart of Greek Ambassadors, the Inter-Fraternity Council and I recently joined Public Relations Student Society of America. All of these experiences have taught me leadership, organization and communication skills. I have found that one can only learn so much from the classroom as there is so much more to learn through outside experience.

I always advise people to get involved in the classroom and on campus in general. Students are privileged to have these opportunities. Why not take them? I think everyone should do as much as they can in their college career. Ultimately, one will gain more knowledge, meet more people and establish more connections.

All of that will lead to success. From my personal experience, applying what I learned in school to my outside organizations, I feel more prepared for what comes after college. In the process, I have met a plethora of people that I know will help me further down the road.

I have been in college for 2 1/2 and it is unbelievable to think of how much I have learned. I am a completely different person from who I was just a few years ago. I was a typical high school student with no real direction because I was not provided with many opportunities. That is why I am so thankful for college because it is truly the best opportunity to find a direction.

I believe that everyone should go to college because it is a one of a kind experience. For the kids who debate it, I would say to just do it. It cannot be compared to high school as it is completely different, but in the best way possible. Everyday I go to school and think that I am creating a bright future for myself. I think it would be great if everyone could feel the same way. By attending class and being involved on campus, I consider myself to be a very successful person. Honestly, one can achieve the same success in college by keeping focus, working hard, trying new things and simply caring.

Alex Ybarra studies journalism. He can be reached at dcoffey@sagebrush.unr.edu and on Twitter @TheSagebrush.