THE BLOG
03/07/2013 12:53 pm ET Updated May 07, 2013

Why Every College Needs a 'Before I Die...' Wall

Every day college students face stress from the challenges of balancing academics, internships, jobs, extracurricular activities, and personal commitments. It can become very easy to slip into the routine and forget about what is truly important in the college experience and in life.

The physical, emotional, and mental exhaustion that college students face on a regular basis has placed a large prominence on lifestyle and mental health issues on campus.

After Candy Chang lost a loved one, she thought about the significance and meaning of death a lot.

"This helped clarify my life but I struggled to maintain perspective," she says on her website. "I wanted to know what was important to the people around me and I wanted a daily reminder."

So she did something about it. She painted the side of an abandoned house in New Orleans with chalkboard paint and stenciled in the sentence "Before I die I want to _______." so that anyone could write down their personal dreams and goals in a public arena.

Example wishes include everything from the sentimental: "Before I die I want to make a change in one person's life," "Before I die I want to find true love," "Before I die I want to leave behind a legacy," and "Before I die I want to live" to the comedic: "Before I die I want to be tried by piracy," written by a man clad in a traditional pirate costume.

Since then, "Before I Die" walls have been popping up in more than 30 countries in more than 10 different languages. Each wall is unique to the community, but also showcases how fundamentally similar we all are.

Students at Rutgers University, Stevens Institute of Technology, The University of Arizona, and George Washington University have used the toolkit provided by Chang to create their own "Before I Die" walls on campus in order to empower students.

But creating bucket lists is not a new phenomenon for college students.

It is important to take the time to step out of the boundaries of only being a college student who is constantly immersed in class work and studying and reading assignments and think about the greater picture of the college experience and even life itself.

Bucket lists allow you to prioritize what is most significant in your life. In the blur of finding the time to finish your 10-page psychology paper, prepare for your politics midterm, and complete your organic chemistry lab, it is easy to forget about what you want most out of life. College students spend so much time being college students that sometimes it seems as though that is the sole factor that defines you.

With the popularity of such shows as MTV's The Buried Life and the book that inspired it, What Do You Want to Do Before You Die? by authors Duncan Penn, Ben Nemtin, Dave Lingwood, and Jonnie Penn, more and more attention has been paid to how people can achieve some of their biggest life dreams.

The "Before I Die" walls restrict each person to determine their number one wish or aspiration that they want to anonymously share with the world. Through narrowing down all of your life goals into one short, easily digestible statement, each person can show the world a glimmer into what makes them unique.

Every single college campus across the world can benefit from a "Before I Die" wall.

Regardless of urban or suburban campuses, large student bodies or small, Division I or Division III sports teams; this collaborative public art project will build and reinforce community for all involved. The wall showcases the diverse perspectives of others, yet shows how fundamentally similar we all are.

One of the greatest aspects about the "Before I Die" walls is a significantly small emphasis on the physical. Most of the written aspirations deal with leaving behind a legacy, or formulating a change in the world, no matter how large or small, or creating connections with other people. The number of people who chose "Before I die I want to become a millionaire" is increasingly small to almost undetectable especially when compared to those who recorded their goals of living out their career, life, love, or family dreams.

"With more ways to share out hopes, fears, and stories in public space, the people around us can not only help us make better places, they can help us lead better lives," Chang said.

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