It is the beginning of my third year out of high school now. I’ve been in college for a while and I can say that honestly, these past two years have been no walk in the park.
Some people graduate from high school and are driven and motivated to do all that they can to succeed in their chosen field, maintain a stellar GPA (or whatever system your school uses), juggle studies with a slew of amazing internships, society positions, and jobs and then go on to succeed in their chosen field.
These types make even the highly self-confident doubt themselves. As much as I wish that I fit into this category, it is unfortunate to say that I do not.
Despite having some happy times, my university experience so far has been filled with doubt, fear, confusion, heartbreak, transfers, change-of-plans, bullying, isolation, loneliness, and dejection.
Upon graduating high school, most people are expected to have at least SOME idea of where they want to go, what they want to do, and what they like and are good at. And others? Not so much.
Upon the sea of well-meaning voices hurtling to and fro at the time of applications, a random degree, a random path, a random major was chosen.
“Do this — NOT THAT — and you’ll be set for life,” they said. And so, the student hesitantly took the advice, unconfident in their own judgment and trusting the voices of the “older, wiser, and more experienced in life.”
On the first day of class, the student was told by her mother: “Well you’ve finished high school now and you’ve gotten into college — as long as you pass, you’ll do fine — don’t worry.”
And so, she walked into class. “I have all the time in the world! Uhhh majors? I don’t know… I have no idea what I’ll do.”
Looking back at the past few years, it all seemed like a huge mistake. My time was spent being indifferent to classes with maybe a couple of hours of cramming before any test — perhaps just enough to miraculously pass the course.
And I switched from program to program, plan to plan, major to major — completely clueless about what to do and devoid of motivation.
After all, as long as you have a degree in the end, that’s all that matters right? WRONG.
Right now, I’m a big believer that one should have at least somewhat of a plan when entering into college. A general direction. Whether that be working in finance or engineering or health or even film, it does not do to enter into college without some sort of aim — some sort of direction.
It does not do to enter with a very limited idea of what your courses will be like. It does not do to think, “I don’t know what to do. I’ll just enroll into something and I hope it will get me a job but to be honest, I have no idea what I want to do.”
It does not do to enter unprepared. Yet, that makes up a significant portion of students going into university.
So many students are enrolling in classes, choosing a random major, perhaps switching a couple times in the process or even discontinuing. Why? Mostly because from a young age, we’re fed the idea that at least a bachelor’s degree is necessary to survive in this world and that university is the only logical step after high school.
For me personally, hailing from a family with two academics and nobody in the past few generations who hasn’t obtained at least a bachelor’s, it truly felt like a need. An obligation. A means as to not be the official black sheep. But that is not the reason to go to university. At least not when you’re still lost and clueless.
You only have a few years in uni. Your time is limited and if at least two of them are going to be spent lost and directionless, it’s pointless.
In the end, jobs requiring a degree are competitive. Masters and graduate programs are competitive. Internships look at your transcript. That’s the reality and if you’re not at least driven towards some sort of goal or destination or have an idea about what sort of job you may be looking for and what you’re good at, you’re in a bad position.
It is perfectly fine to be lost at times, to have doubts and to be a little “exploratory,” but if you know that you have multiple interests that range across a whole lot of fields then maybe college is not for you at this moment.
Maybe it would be a better idea to take a semester, a “gap year” or even two.
As much as it may not be condoned by the rest of society, you should do it to get to know yourself slightly better, to really explore your interests and “passions,” to take a few classes here and there and perhaps get a lower level certification whilst getting a further idea on what to pursue at the tertiary level.
A high grade is hard to maintain with a fuzzy head and an unclear mind. A good attitude is hard to keep up when the back of your mind is clouded with the same question, “What do I actually want to do with my life? Did I choose the wrong major? The wrong degree?”
I know that college isn’t all about the grades. There are social opportunities and chances to make friends and really have fun.
In these last couple of years, I’ve met so many people from different walks of life who have opened my eyes to new possibilities and opportunities. For that, I’m forever grateful.
It does not hurt to wait. It does not hurt to take time to figure it out, especially when you’re a teenager, when you’re 18/19 and all you’ve experienced is school.
So now, here I am, a 20-year-old college student wondering if the past few years were worth it or not. My honest answer can only be that it depends.
For some professions that do require a qualification, and for those who are definite and driven enough to strive for it and use your degree to your advantage, then yes it is.
I can’t say anything about the future. All I know of right now are the stories of the thousands of grads who can’t find jobs and the massive success stories.
I hear that people don’t always work in anything related to their major but at other times, it seems like almost everyone I know who has graduated is.
I have no idea what the future holds for me, but I know I’m not going to drop out. I’m going to finish this degree by 22 (and it’ll go by quickly I’m sure, considering how the last two years have zoomed by) and I can only say I hope I’ll be able to get a job more skilled than the menial retail part time jobs I’ve had so far.
I still have no clue as yet what I’ll be doing after I graduate, whether it be taking time off for myself, going for further studies, jumping into a job, or something “crazy.”
I just hope that in a decade, I’ll look back again on these years of struggle and tell myself that despite the flawed system, college was worth it.