Literally, the cost of my college education is equivalent to the small mountain of student debt I will be paying back forever. Even despite this astronomical cost (that I am now just beginning to fully grasp) the value and benefits of my time at Notre Dame far exceed the monetary cost of attendance. (bold statement right?)
There is something about a collection of young, curious, intelligent, inquisitive minds that is priceless. This environment provides endless opportunities for new ideas to be explored. Both academic and otherwise: from carefully analyzed theories on who the starting QB would be, to intense debates on social justice, and conversations regarding the physics of time travel. Participation in this kind of community provides an educational experience that goes far beyond simple text book and classroom learning.
Notre Dame is a place where if you are bold enough, you can reach out to anyone and be nearly guaranteed that they will welcome your camraderie. You can join a random conversation in Lafun, or make friends with the guy beside you in your Calculus class, or still say “Hi” to your lab partner 2 or 4 or 7 semesters later.
Some of the best friends you make are by the accident of proximity. But maybe this isn’t such an accident after all. The admission faculty at the university carefully select from thousands of applicants the perfect blend of personalities, interests, view points, and ambitions to create a community that it one of a kind.
Notre Dame is not perfect, not even close. But it is a place that made me better. Notre Dame is a place that challenged me. Mentally, Spiritually, Socially, and Academically. I grew in ways I never would have expected. I learned, important, sometimes painful, lessons about justice, compassion, dedication, loyalty, and hard work. I learned how to be a good friend. I learned how to be a good person. I learned how to study. I learned that if you sample the signal at twice the fundamental frequency you can reproduce the signal exactly, not approximately, but EXACTLY, from the samples. (Its a nerd joke…) I learned how to push myself.
And while sometimes I felt like an impostor I know now that Notre Dame is a place where I am comfortable being my most authentic self.
As I make enormous monthly payments on my loans sometimes I wonder if I should have taken one of the scholarships I was offered at another university. But I know in my heart that I wouldn’t trade one minute of my time at Notre Dame. And in an odd twist of fate, I am actually thankful for my loans. They are character building. They remind me that nothing is free, nothing comes without work. (At least this is what I tell myself while I’m still paying them off)