The Most Formative Four Years

by Liz Setti 

Is college really the best four years of 

your life, or an opportunity to grow 

into the person you hope to become?

Social media influencer Eli Rallo once said, “College is not the best four years of your life, but the most formative ones.” As a senior in high school soon to be attending Loyola University Chicago in the fall, this idea strongly resonated with me. There seems to be a societal stereotype that between the ages of 18 and 22 (the average age of college students) is supposed to be the epitome of an untamed lifestyle. With this concept being preached, an incredible amount of pressure exists for students in college to create a way of living that matches that societal standard. This pressure is also then placed on young adults who are soon to move into college since they are fixated on trying to adopt the sought-after “college” lifestyle. I think there needs to be a shift in the narrative about the college experience because if the peak of your life is between 18 and 22, the rest of your existence is just dull. Reframing this time to become “the most formative years of your life” allows students to have a healthier relationship with their college experience. 

To preface, it is important to acknowledge that creating the ideal college experience (according to society) requires a lot of privilege that is not the reality for many college students. 

In order to reframe my mindset going into college, I have compiled a few goals that will foster a formative environment. I think that it is important for anyone who is transitioning into a new era of their life (in my case college) to assemble some realistic objectives to strive towards. However, goals are very subjective and are not “one-size-fits-all,” therefore take my list of priorities as inspiration, not a prescription.

  1. Attend local off-campus events. By attending Loyola, I will have the city of Chicago at my fingertips—which allows for plenty of exploration and enjoyment outside of the borders of Loyola. I can speculate that many college students confine themselves to only going to events hosted by their school because it is more comfortable for them. However, I really want to venture out into the city and embody being a Chicago resident, not just a Loyola student. Something I really want to do is join a local running club which would force me to spend time with people who may not be affiliated with my school. 
  2. Start a fun new hobby with my roommate Eliana. I have been very lucky to have become close with my future roommate, Eliana, prior to us moving into our dorm this fall. Instead of her just being someone I live with I am eager to also grow our friendship. I think it would be fun for us to find something we both enjoy doing together and integrate it into our time at Loyola. The activity may be something we just find naturally, or we may have to brainstorm. But the sole purpose of this goal is to actively grow my relationship with the people surrounding me. It is overwhelming to commit myself to make friends with everyone around me therefore setting a small and attainable objective like this makes it a lot easier to accomplish. 
  3. Chill with the FOMO (“fear of missing out”) I assume that it is safe to say that we all experience some sense of FOMO in our lifetime. FOMO is feeling the need to attend every social event out of the fear of missing out. I suffer from this all the time, so I find myself going out every weekend and never giving myself time to recharge and be satisfied with my own company. FOMO is even more prevalent in college through social media and party culture. I want to try to actively remind myself when I get to college that I do not need to subscribe to a 24/7 party lifestyle as a result of FOMO. The main objective of this goal is to achieve the balance of staying in and going out while also not feeling guilty when I decide to have a night to myself. 

Overall finding the time to set realistic goals for college that do not necessarily relate to academics has relieved some of the societal pressure that I have been facing recently. I can focus on what I want my college version to look like, not what society deems “ideal.” I do not want to peak in college nor have the best years of my life be between the ages of 18 and 22 years old. The rest of my life would only seem to be downhill from there which is so undesirable. However, I want college to be the most formative period of my life where I can flourish into adulthood and be prepared to peak for the rest of my time. 

About Liz Setti

Liz Setti is a Peoria area native and graduated in the class of 22 from Richwoods High School. She is going to be a freshman at Loyola University Chicago this fall where she will study nursing. Liz is passionate about writing and has her own blog, “A Hidden Addiction” and was former co-editor in chief of the newspaper at Richwoods. Some of Liz’s favorite hobbies are running, cooking, and hanging with her friends.

Art by Ellie Kraemer

Ellie Kraemer is a sophomore and an animation major at Bradley University who lives and breathes her artwork. Becoming a professional artist and animator has been a goal of hers for many years, as various works of digital art and experience have held a pivotal role in her life. Intrigued by the diverse storytelling prowess of interactive media, she aims to get involved in the productions of visuals for video games and animated series after graduation. You can find more of her work at