OP/ED: I’m sorry; we were looking for the college experience By Joseph Torres This fall semester, Mercy College welcomes a litt

This fall semester, Mercy College welcomes a little more than 10,000 combined undergraduates, grad students, and some occasional class takers to one or more of their five campuses.


While many of you have traveled different paths to get to this point, you all fall under the banner of being Mercy students.


Why are you here? It’s one of the first things individuals choose to explain when asked to introduce themselves in a classroom setting. It is one of those individual questions, which you have the privilege to walk around with, without ever having to explain. I’m challenging you to.

Why are you going to college? Why did you go back to college?

The answer to these questions is definitive.

Whether an individual had nothing to do, or was forced to attend by a parent, or not so humorously forced by the job market that hungers for college degrees these days, or has a general thirst for knowledge — maybe it’s all of the above or none of the above — there is still a drive to attend college whether chosen or forced.

Now you’re here, some for the first time, and others who have been here long enough to spot any and all changes made to a campus.

If you’re not sure why you’re here, some will tell you at least you get to experience the college experience. So what is the college experience?

“I want to get a good job,” one woman said.

After re-explaining that the question is ‘what’s the college experience?’ and not ‘why are you going to college,’ she replied “I don’t know.”

After reassuring her that her answer was indeed a good answer, she didn’t believe this to be true.

She puffed away on her cigarette. “Don’t use my name” she said.

At least forty other students had the same answer. If only Jane Doe realized that she was the first to verbally state the answer, maybe it would have made her feel better.

Answers were given, but to the wrong question. We know why they are here, but what are they looking to get out of the college experience?

At moments like this, you can visualize Alex Trebeck stating in his most apologetic tone: “I’m sorry we were looking for… what is the college experience?”

Maybe my question is flawed. Or is it somehow ambiguous?

New plan of action. How about attempting to yell the question, similarly the way people raise their voices when talking to someone who doesn’t speak their language.

Unfortunately, this shouldn’t have worked, but it did!


“Time management, I guess.” answered Steven Hagan .

Houston, we have an answer.

Hagan, a twenty-six year old senior, stated that some students have to juggle their jobs and class loads.

Let’s yell the question again to others.

This time at the Bronx campus a twenty year old junior, Olivia James, simply stated “Independence.”

An undergraduate married couple, Mr. and Mrs. Pabon, added “It’s like high school,” almost finishing each other’s sentence as the other replied “exactly like high school.”

What would a graduate say on the subject?

Roxanne Leak, a recent graduate, replied, “The college experience varies with each person. My college experience taught me valuable and memorable lessons which can be used both inside and outside the classroom.”

It’s understandable that having over 10,000 students there should be 10,000 opinions, but is there a way to condense an answer in Jeopardy format.

Ironically enough, another Torres would be the one to provide the answer I was expecting more to say.


“You make college what it is. If you want it to be sad, or bad, or party filled, it’s on you,” said Julio Torres.

“Correct, Mr. Torres,” Alex Trebeck would say. “Pick a new category, please.”

– By Joseph Torres