Resonance at Swarthmore

Why would you go to college if you could already make enough money to sustain yourself and be happy?

I think it’s most fitting to answer this question (and ultimately explain my decision to come to Swarthmore) by talking about role models: the people I’ve meet in real life and online that I admire. The type of people I look up to most are constantly thinking about how to improve their lives, which in turn makes me think about mine.

I love to get lost in my thoughts about life. It’s like when you’re listening to a song, and although you’re kinda tuning out the lyrics, you are staring off into space, lost in thoughts about whatever the song is about.

When I was looking for colleges, I was captivated by the fact that students at Swarthmore were thinking about their lives in deeper ways, questioning everything from why they’re majoring in computer science to why they are even trying hard in college. Students at many of the other colleges I had on my list seemed so focused on the pre-professional world that the humanistic side got lost in that job-crazed vortex.

I realized this when somebody asked me that question at the beginning of this post:

Why would you go to college if you could already make enough money to sustain yourself and be happy?

Good question. My parents didn’t really talk to me about the actual experience of college; they just cared about me getting admitted to a top college as the transition to a high-paying job. But I knew I was interested in deeper experience and questions than that.

For example, one of the Swatties I met was thinking seriously about whether or not she should continue pursuing computer science. I was surprised anyone would even think such a thing. Growing up in San Francisco / Silicon Valley, where it is clear as day that computer science is a very attractive and lucrative profession, I couldn’t believe it. Hearing somebody question their motivations for pursuing a tech career showed that Swatties cared about more than just making money.

It opened my eyes.

“Money Money Money” courtesy of Julie de Waroquier

I’ve also noticed that students at Swarthmore are actively trying to become the best versions of themselves—not just in their majors (English, math, physics, anything), but also by challenging their values and developing meaningful relationships. I look up to people who embrace and want to improve their human side.

Developing that human side is something that means a lot to me, definitely more than getting a high GPA. At Swarthmore, I am surrounded by people with this sort of intrinsic desire, and our varied interests and majors don’t even matter, since we’re all held together by that inherent drive.

Writing about this stuff might make it seem like I have a whole set plan for myself at Swarthmore. But in fact, it’s the opposite. I have no clue what is going to happen to me in the future, and I think what best sums it up is a metaphor regarding the legendary piston Tesla described. It may be tiny, but when moved up and down at the perfect frequencies in an oscillator, could cause an earthquake.

So at Swarthmore, since I share with other Swatties that inherent desire to develop myself—since we are all operating with a matching frequency—even if I have no idea what’s going to happen to me, I know that oscillating at that frequency will empower me to shake the world. And perhaps what I love most about this is that even if I end up in a place completely different from what I’m imagining now, I will be happy.

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