I grew up in a small affluent neighborhood north of downtown Los Angeles called Porter Ranch. In preschool I made my first friend; in elementary, I joined my first club; in second grade I moved to a new school in pursuit of a better education; in middle school, I struggled for the first time; and in high school, I found my school spirit. All of these experiences in different schools—from forming my first friendships to attending my first school football game—have shaped who I am, and what my life has been, thus far. I am currently a senior in his final semester of high school. The next step is college.
From an early age, I had plenty of expectations set for me. And being first generation Asian-American only compounds to these expectations. From the moment I joined a prestigious program called the Highly Gifted Magnet, the expectations were set in stone: it was standard practice to earn A’s, spend most of my time studying, and hopefully attend a university like an Ivy League school. But what I wasn’t aware of was how much I didn’t know. I never realized that school was more than grades and results, that there were teachers I would form bonds with, subjects that would genuinely interest me, friends I would treat like family, and a community that would accept me regardless of my failures or shortcomings. It took these 12-something years of school to realize these things. So how do I define my expectations for college now? It takes looking back to realize what I can look forward to in the future.
One of my biggest expectations for college is a sense of community. In high school especially, I gained an appreciation on the bonds I’ve formed: I’ve made friends who are like brothers and sisters to me now. From shouting in the stands at a football game, to singing our hearts out at karaoke, to panicking the night before a test together, some of the friendships I’ve made in high school have been the highlight of my life, thus far. I also expect diversity in college. From difference in ideals to difference in race, I hope to see the world through perspectives different from mine. I believe college can serve as a cultural mixing pot, more so than America already is, where everybody can learn from one another. And I expect most of my learning to be outside of class, in discussions with my peers.
In terms of academics, I expect my college classes to be filled with students who are equally passionate about the subject at hand. In high school, my greatest issue with the educational system was always the lack of courses or class choices. Every other class seems to be filled with students who couldn’t care less about what the teacher had to say, and sometimes I would be one of those students. In college, this freedom to choose classes is granted, leading to more passionate and involved classes, something I look forward to. Another aspect of education that excites me is extracurricular activities. Extracurriculars in college will be a big step from high school extracurriculars. Student-athletes reach a collegiate level, science and math clubs become increasingly specialized and intense, and public speaking and cultural clubs become more nuanced and complex. In college, I expect to expand my skills through extracurriculars. I expect to explore more athletic opportunities and join more clubs, from leadership organizations to hobbyist clubs like film clubs.
And lastly, I look forward to a new stage in my life. From learning what my passions are to creating new friendships and meeting people from across the world, college is bound to be an experience that allows me to develop as a student and shapes my identity as a person. In this sense, I hope college gives me more insight into who I am and who I might become.
Kevin Song is part of the North Hollywood High School graduating class of 2019. When I found out he was graduating this year, I invited him to share a few words about what college life might be for him. Kevin hopes to stay in Los Angeles for college, but someday he wants to visit Rome. And while Kevin enjoys martial arts, and karaoke with friends, this conscientious Porter Ranch teen-volunteer has a soft spot for animals as well.
—Michael Baradi, Porter Ranch YA Librarian