Looking Past The Diploma

Looking Past The Diploma

College puts a lot of pressure on students. We are suddenly thrust into this world to fend for ourselves, make our own schedules and follow our own rules. Then, we take a full course load on top of that. In short, college makes you grow up fast. 

Hardly any of that growing up happens in the class room. You do not pick up the core life skills that a self-sufficient member of society needs from behind a desk with a pencil in your hand. Real Life 101 doesn't have a CRN number. Your first day of class starts the day your parents drive off after moving you in.

The syllabus is nearly blank. It has your name listed as the instructor and has the words, "figure it out" written in the center of its single page. This class does not factor into your diploma, but it will give your diploma more value than any of the classes you take. 

The separation between the bottom of the class and the top of the class in Real Life 101 is apparent. Those who make up the bottom of the class, learned little more in college than what was assigned to them in class -- other than how to do their own laundry and make ramen noodles. These are the ones who stay within their comfort zone, do not test their limits and pass up all the wonderful opportunities that Purdue offers. These are the ones who will have nothing, but a piece of paper when they get their diploma at graduation.

Chances are, if you are reading these words, then you are part of the top of the class -- because you broadened your experience beyond the classroom and went Greek. Going Greek is the cornerstone of what Purdue has given me outside the class room. Fraternity men on this campus know the skills they have gained through their involvement in their chapter, starting with pledgeship and translating into active brotherhood. Sorority women on this campus also know they have grown as people and leaders through their involvement. I don't need to explain how grateful I am for what my chapter has given me, not to you guys. You know the feeling as well as I do.

That being said, Greek life isn't the only way to enroll in Real Life 101. College puts so many opportunities for you to grow within your reach. Limiting your experience to the classroom is like going to an amusement park and riding the least exciting ride the whole day. Purdue has innumerable clubs, student organizations, learning communities, leadership opportunities and ways to diversify your college experience that are at your fingertips. Check out boilerlink.purdue.edu/Organizations and take a look at where you can get involved on campus. It doesn't matter what you are into, there is probably a callout meeting for it somewhere, sometime. 

Your involvement can be small, supplemental to your degree, or it can be define your experience here. It is up to you. The only route I urge you to avoid is the path that does not branch. Take advantage of the tremendous opportunities that we have, here, and make your degree something more than just a piece of paper. Take your school work very seriously; tuition costs are no joke. But you are doing yourself a disservice if the only thing you do in college is go to class, do your homework and take your exams. 

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To The One About To Graduate

You may not know the next step to take after you get off that stage at graduation, but that can be the best part.

To the one about to graduate:

Congratulations! This is your final semester of your undergraduate college career. You have enjoyed a nice four (five, maybe six) years at your school, and all of your hard work, blood, sweat, and tears is finally about to pay off.

As someone who is about to graduate soon, I am not going to lie and say that looking into the abyss isn’t both thrilling and terrifying. There are few times in a person’s life when your life is absolutely full of opportunities.

There are so many possible choices for you to make as a new graduate. Maybe you want to settle down with your significant other and start a family. Perhaps you want to pursue a graduate degree and become a lawyer or doctor. If you are like me, you are possibly still deciding between many options.

The scariest part of the unknown is simply what it is: not knowing.

However, it should also be exciting. The future is ripe with possibilities, thrills, and sure maybe some disappointments. Not knowing is what makes life exciting.

Yes, your entire life has been clear-cut with someone telling you where to go next. This is the first time your choices are completely up to you, and that is something to celebrate!

You can be a YouTube star or a stay at home mom or dad, or you can travel the world and run a blog from wherever you find yourself on that particular day.

You could become a yoga teacher or a corporate lawyer, or maybe you realize you love education so much that you want to be a professional student for life.

For the first time in your life, there is no wrong choice or necessarily a right choice. You don’t have to go in a certain direction. You don’t need to have everything figured out, and it is okay to fail once in a while.

Your post-graduation years are meant for finding your way. Along the way, you may take a stumble or two, and that is perfectly fine.

As long as you continue to pick yourself up and commit to finding your way, you will find it eventually.

You may not know the next step to take after you get off that stage at graduation, but that can be the best part.


Someone Also Trying To Find Their Own Way

Cover Image Credit: Pexels

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Confessions of a Single Mother in Her Twenties While in College

My new motivation

It's hard to imagine that at a mere 23 years of age a piece of me is running around, screaming the few words he knows, tormenting the family pets. It's even harder to remember that a few short years ago, this was not my plan. And boy, was I in for a reality check.

Looking around all I see is my friends, my classmates, and my peers going out and having a good time, achieving and exceeding all their goals. They can all take road trips at a moment's notice, to nowhere in particular. Sleeping until 3 in the afternoon on any day is a thing of the past.

What people do not realize is, as a mother in her early twenties, I was made to put many things on hold. A whole new life was in my hands. This was my new life.

Before being a mom, I thought I knew what it was like to be stressed, to be busy. My anxiety and depression were at all time highs. Most of the time I wouldn't make it half a day without a potential breakdown. That was my new life.

I had so many goals set long before the surprise blessing of motherhood. The cold, hard truth was that I was no longer the most important person in my life. Why do I keep reiterating that fact? Because, though I have always been a very selfless individual, I was now thrown into an entirely new level of it all. I know I am not alone.

Now, I balance a work life, college attendance, and try to still achieve all the goals I set out for all those years ago, somewhat changing my path as I have gone along. No more are the late night study sessions or cramming for exams. Nowadays, one must meticulously plan every possible free moment and be open to the fact that nothing will ever go to plan.

Having a support system makes it all feasible. I can see an end, though not within reach quite yet. I am doing so much on my own, little support, but the support I do have makes my goals achievable after all. It reminds me that this does not mean I have to give up. I have a little person that looks up to me, he relies on me. In the big scheme of things, he will be just as proud as I will be of myself.

It is not all bad. The staggering amount of love I have for this tiny human is intensely overwhelming, as is the love he has for me in his smile when he sees me walk through the door after a long, hard day of work. He is my new motivation, where before motivation was lacking. The things I now do for him I once dreaded doing. Study sessions are no easier to get through, but knowing that it will all pay off and provide a sense of stability for my child and myself is rewarding and pushes me through the next chapter and beyond.

You cannot let life get in the way, use your experiences as a fuel to the fire, as I have done. I am prepared for it to take longer, I am prepared for the sacrifice of missing out on a few things while he is young, and I know I will be able to provide for him when he is older and be able to prove to him anything you set your mind to is possible with enough hard work and perseverance.

I am a college student. I work full time. I am a Mom. I CAN do it all.

Cover Image Credit: Harsh The Blog

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