I’ll be honest: I lied on my housing survey. Against the advice of practically everyone that I asked, I evaluated myself on the characteristics which I wished I embodied. For me, that meant choosing traits like clean over messy, extrovert over introvert and night owl over morning person. I understand if you are sympathizing with my roommate right about now, thinking that he got stuck with a messy, socially awkward liar to live with for the better part of a year. Let me just say that I blame my high school.

Around this time last year I had not yet been accepted to Trinity, or any school for that matter. Life, as far as I was concerned, was purely about waiting for my decision emails to start appearing. High schools’ attempts to prepare students for the ‘real world’ are laughable: They promise their students that maintaining As is the key to ensuring acceptance letters. We worked at extracurriculars, community service and jobs to make our resumes as close as we could to that of the perfect college applicant.

The high school that I attended is in a city just north of Boston. There, snow currently covers the ground and the cold weather will continue well into the spring. The student body is larger than that of Trinity. Nobody ever says “y’all.” In short, it is a sharp contrast to the balmy, intimate campus setting here.

However, these are not the only ways in which college is a drastically different experience that high school. A year ago, school limited me from seeing a horizon beyond good grades and how I looked on paper. Now, school provides the perfect amount of structure in my life, a malleable framework that I can confidently reshape as I wish. Becoming the person who I wanted to be was simple after Trinity provided me with a clean slate.

I recently called three of my friends back home, hoping that they were having similar experiences.

“What’s it like being in college back in Mass?” I asked them.

One of them, my best friend from high school, told me, “It’s about what I expected.”

“Cold,” the second answered tersely.

Thankfully, my third friend produced an answer that encompassed everything I feel about college: “Honestly, I feel like I understand the point of school now.”

Trinity has transformed school for me into infinitely more than maintaining an A average. School has become about discovering what I want out of life. Before college, it felt as though our every action was under judgement and constantly evaluated. Sports players worked towards athletic scholarships, musicians practiced for admissions auditions and valedictorian competitors jousted for that No. 1 class ranking that was once a coveted distinction. As I look at my year in review, this is what jumps out to me as the most prominent change in the past 12 months: Trinity has brought out the individual in me, someone with whom I was previously unfamiliar.

While the more seasoned students of Trinity University reading this may scoff at my grandiose, even glorified notions of what the future potentially holds, I fully intend on milking this optimism to the last drop. Never before have I experienced such an opportunity to meet the real me, and for that I have Trinity to thank. For all first-years, I think it is safe to say that this past year encompassed one of the biggest transitions of our lives. The coming year will offer us entirely new perspectives, all we can do is allow our minds to expand along with them. And for the record, my roommate and I get along famously.