College Life Today: How college cleared my path

Jamie Rubin, Environmental Science and Management: Natural Resource Recreation

Jamie Rubin
Special to the Mad River Union

 HUMBOLDT State – In the midst of exams and projects, I sometimes wonder why I chose college. Why would I intentionally put myself through stress, lack of sleep, and the pressure to succeed? I go through phases of regret and compare my life to those around me, instilling a real fear of the soon to come post-baccalaureate blues. 

Will all of this time, money and hard work really pay off in the end? Then I realize, prior to college, my roadmap in life looked like a Jackson Pollock painting. It was a mess of scattered lines moving in unplanned directions. 

 As a kid, higher education wasn’t always discussed in my family. It was my understanding that if I learned a skill or found something I was passionate about, my career path would seem much more clear. However, I didn’t understand that college could be used as a tool to find those things I would be passionate about. I imagined college as a concrete prison that only accepted those who claimed their career path at the age of five. College couldn’t be for indecisive people like me. 

 After years of odd jobs, technical school and experience as a veterinary technician, I realized I was staying stagnant in life. College was my answer to escape my everyday monotony. I struggled with the idea of going to college for years, but the uncertainty of my future was the most terrifying. When I decided to go to community college it was like walking into a busy intersection blindfolded. I had no idea what I was doing, but I knew it was the way I would find change. 

Beginning my college experience at a community college was the most important decision I had made for my future. From business administration, to art history, to geology, it allowed me to experiment with several subjects and helped me narrow down my interests. More importantly, it taught me that receiving an education didn’t need to feel forced. One of my professors once quoted W.B. Yeats, “Education is not the filling of a pail, but the lighting of a fire.” I had never heard that phrase before then, but it has stuck with me for years. 

College wasn’t that concrete prison I had imagined. For me, college was a space to recalibrate and find a clearer roadmap.   

Jamie Rubin is an Environmental Science and Management student at Humboldt State University with an emphasis in Natural Resource Recreation and minor in Geospatial Analysis. Follow her college experience through social media outlets, like Instagram. Find out more at


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