Freshman makes sacrifices in coming to UT

Benjamin Miller

College is a scary prospect. Throughout my senior year of high school and all summer, this whole college thing has had me worried. I like to think that I am not the only one feeling this way. 

It is not so much the idea of living away from my family in a big city for the first time in my life that scares me. The academic rigor does not intimidate me, nor do the numerous adventures awaiting me in Austin. These are the reasons I am taking the plunge in the first place.

Life is what scares me. Many of us imagine what life will be like “someday” when we “grow up,” and here it is. Obviously life does not end when you get to college; it goes on whether you succeed or fail. And neither does it begin now, as this would negate all the work and experiences that you have had over the past 18 or so years that have made you who you are. The difference is that the stakes are higher. Running out of money could have a student wondering where their next meal will come from. 

And those worries are just general ones which apply to almost everyone at the University of Texas and other universities around the world. Coming to Austin, I am leaving behind a rock band in which I play guitar. No doubt I will be questioning my decision to give up as tight a group as that. After years together, people start understanding each other musically, and to start another band would require starting all over again. I also am entering this new phase of life with my girlfriend. She will be living 30 minutes away in Georgetown. I may not see her as often as I would like.

Academically, I face a great challenge, as do many of us. I am in the School of Undergraduate Studies, not by choice, but because I was denied admission to Cockrell School of Engineering, where I would be studying electrical engineering. There was no other choice; no other schools had received an application from me.

My family is not so certain of my going away. Their encouragement is scarce. Our economic situation does not lend itself to supporting my education. I have had to fight doubts from without as well as from within. My father has a degree he does not use in his current job, and just recently paid off his debt, so his college experience was less of an investment and more of an enormous waste of time and money.

Getting in was only the beginning. I still have to prove myself and leap far greater hurdles than I have already experienced, with the hope that I can come out the other side wiser, stronger and more prepared for success in the world. Do not get me wrong, I am extremely excited. Fear and anxiety are hurdles themselves. The greatest challenge of all will be balancing my optimism for the future with my fears of complete and utter failure. But despite the doubts in my mind, I am thinking (and hoping) that college will be a blast. 

Miller is an undeclared freshman from Mansfield.