As you walk through the oak-lined paths of Elon University’s campus and embark on your orientation weekend to learn all that Elon has to offer, it is imperative to remember that attending college is a privilege and you should treat it as such.

Across the United States, a majority of people do not achieve a college education. In a report released by the U.S. Census Bureau in April, only 33.4 percent of Americans older than 25 have at least a bachelor’s degree.

Though these numbers are low, they are the highest they’ve ever been, and the rate of attaining college degrees is highest among Americans ages 25 to 37. The numbers also drop when accounting for different racial and ethnic groups, with 37 percent of non-Hispanic white Americans having a college degree, compared to 23 percent of African-Americans and 16.4 percent of Hispanic Americans.

These statistics should make one thing clear: getting a college education, let alone from an institution such as Elon, is a privilege. The opportunity to live, learn and grow on this campus is one that so many people do not have.

Especially in the beginning of your college career, it is easy to get wrapped up in social life – deciding what fraternity or sorority you want to be in, making friends with people on your hall, finding people to grab meals with and so on. But it is important to remember why you are here.

You are here to get an education that will propel you forward to a career and an incredible life. Do not waste this opportunity. Use this incredible privilege to help yourself in your career and life and to help others.

At Elon, there are so many opportunities you can take advantage of that will not only help you grow as a person, but also help our community. You can volunteer with the Kernoodle Center in the Alamance County community. You can conduct undergraduate research that could help save lives. You can be a mentor to other students — the list is endless.

This is your time — it will be what you make of it.