Author Walter Brunell once wrote “Failure is the tuition you pay for success.” I like starting my blogs with a quote because…why not commemorate someone else’s instance of brilliance with a citation?
I especially like this quote because it directly relates to how I left off my last blog…turning to Indiana University and falling flat on my face! The combination of failure with a collegiate reference is the perfect storm of irony and truth.
To refresh your memory, the problems I saw were college students taking way too many classes without any clarity on what to major in and college students throwing a random dart at which career to pursue because their major was not giving them clarity on their career. This seems to me like such an obvious problem in student development today that nobody seems to be able to solve.
It feels as if society is a parent and college students are their child and going to college is like dropping your kid in the pool for the first time and watching them flail around aimlessly for breath. Sure, this is fine and cute when you are talking about $20 swim lessons…but when these college “swim lessons” run up your tab to the tune of $20,000+ a semester, it’s not so cute and novel anymore.
The issue is that it feels as if American society has normalized confusion for what a person should do from the ages 18-22. I feel that this confusion should either be less normalized or that college should be cheaper so then the consequences of being confused in college are minimized. With the high cost of getting a college degree, attending college with confusion can be a gamble. Yes, I said it, going to college with confusion can be considered a GAMBLE! Sure, administrators who went to college 20+ years ago may disagree with me because when they went to college A) they could afford to pay for their tuition out of their own pocket (which now seems as if it is impossible to even imagine paying for college without loans, your parents, or scholarship) and B) when you are paying for college (even a little) out of your own pocket, you have skin in the game. This forces you, as the student, to think “wow, am I really ready for college because this is a lot of cash that I am dropping?” This then leads to the clarity of “I am ready for college, I have researched what I am going to major in, and I am pretty confident that I can accomplish my goal of getting a degree in 4 years” or “No, I am not ready. I think I am going to work/travel/soul search for a little bit and then maybe come back to college.”
This is what SHOULD happen in a perfect world. However, the world is not perfect.
REVELATION: All people are different and some people learn and develop at their own pace! And guess what, college is not meant for everyone at age 18…BAZINGA!
So what happens to those 18 year olds that do not know what they want to do entering college?
First, there are more students than advisors. Like significantly more! Imagine 40,000 students to 150 advisors…yikes! Advisors cannot possibly give students the individualized attention that they need to truly make an educated decision on their degree path.
My initial thought to combat this problem was to help college students clarify what their hobbies and interests were and how that could correlate to a major. This was my original idea for Ambition In Motion.
However, at this time I was 21 years old and no parent was going to pay me, a person without any credible accolades, any money to help their child figure out their degree path. It was like “hey, I can help your child figure out their degree path” and the parents saying “have you even figured out your own degree path?…touché”.
I knew exactly what I wanted to do with my degree path and had a good idea of where I would like my career to go and I knew that I had the skills and experience to help their child, but convincing a parent when you are 21 that you can help their child with their degree (to them at least) is like a fish telling us that he convinced a shark not to eat him. It is just tough for the parents to believe it.
Even if I could convince a parent to pay me to help their child out with their degree path, very few students are motivated to participate in something that their parents made them do. “I loved and was super motivated to do that thing my parents forced me to do”…said no one ever.
So how did I handle this failure? I will let you know in my next blog post.
In terms of this blog post title, college really is not meant for everyone, certainly not everyone at age 18. If you are a student, realize that your parents, friends, family, and everyone else in society just wants you to be happy without impeding on their happiness (i.e. on a professional level of pursuing a career/lifestyle that you don’t have to move back in with your parents to things on a personal level like not keeping your neighbors up all night because you want to blast music at 3:00 in the morning). If you are everyone else in society, try to hold back judgment of those who are pursuing their life in a different way than you did, foresee yourself to, or think that everyone else should. Those people who are pursuing the road less traveled should not be chastised and thought of destined for immortal doom because they are not doing it the way everyone else is. We, as society, love to value those who “made it” via the road less traveled, yet, we love to rebuke those who are on a less traveled road whom haven’t quite “made it” to their destination yet.
Let’s support those who are doing things a little differently :).