Many high school juniors and seniors think the College Process is just searching for where you want to spend the next four years of your life. They think it’s the stereotypical ‘To Do’ list: get good grades, take your SAT or ACT’s, decide on a major, decide on what kind of college you want to go to, research colleges that match this imaginative future you’ve concocted in your head, visit those colleges, apply to those colleges, get accepted, and then navigate accepting scholarships and paying deposits and going to orientation. Boom! College Process complete.
“Usually when you ask somebody in college why they are there, they’ll tell you it’s to get an education. The truth of it is, they are there to get the degree so that they can get ahead in the rat race.” – Abbie Hoffman
Now that you’ve moved in during Welcome Week, you have a myriad of choice activities before classes start the following Monday. You feel good albeit a bit anxious, making new friends and adjusting to your environment. However, the sense of freedom from not being hovered over by parents and guardians and the excitement can take care of that in a flash. You might even feel as if you can relax now that you’ve completed the monotonous years in high school just waiting for graduation day. But wait, the real work hasn’t even begun. You still have to get that degree to get that job. Then you can relax right?
But, in actuality, this is only the beginning of the college process. It continues and really doesn’t stop, despite what most are lead to believe.
“I only want to write. And there’s no college for that except life.” – Dodie Smith
I’m in college currently, my second year, and I am only just starting to realize that the “College Process” is so much more than getting accepted and working towards a degree. With this comes more expectations: finding money to pay for courses, going to class, finding a place to live, maintaining a healthy lifestyle, studying and doing your assignments, getting a decent GPA, participating in clubs (more than one), getting an internship (more than one), using your degree after graduation, finding a job, and still making time to relax. It’s practically impossible to do all of this!
Soon, there aren’t enough hours in a day and you’re fighting to stay awake in class because you stayed up too late the night before. And, you can’t go to that club activity because you have an exam on Monday. And, you can’t go to the gym because you have a paper to write. These are only a few examples of the struggles college students encounter in everyday life.
What would you say if I told you that everything I listed above counted as the College Experience and not even the College Process?
“Success comes in a lot of ways, but it doesn’t come with money and it doesn’t come with fame. It comes from having a meaning in your life, doing what you love, and being passionate about what you do. That’s having a life of success. When you have the ability to do what you love, love what you do, and have the ability to impact people. That’s having a life of success. That’s what having a life of meaning is.” – Tim Tebow
To be successful, you have to do whatever you can to follow your dreams- whatever they may be. However, so many college students get caught up in the daily assignments, the exams, the projects and papers, the meetings, and the good times to think about what they need to be doing every day to ensure their own success. Because, believe it or not, unless making all those meetings and deadlines, studying relentlessly for those exams, and attending all those events are paving the way to your dream; they aren’t worth your time.
The College Process is not doing everything, but doing what is going to make your dream achievable: joining the clubs and organizations that are going to help build your network; taking part in events, internships, and conferences that are going to build your resume; actually building a resume and network. And yes, you should have fun, but not more than is going allow you to get up the next day and do what needs to be done.
That’s what a lot of college students don’t realize…. Yes, you work hard in college and have to try to make time for everything. But the College Experience is not the same for everyone, and the College Process can get ignored, leaving you with no resume or relevant experience that’s going to help with your path to your own success and happiness.
My advice would be to always stay observant, make each experience a learning experience, and even after graduation- keep learning. A successful life- a fulfilled life- is one in which you are always learning, always enjoying, and always present. So don’t neglect the College Process because you’re too caught up in trying to capture the College Experience.