MythBusters: College Edition

13 Sep

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I’m going to let you in on the ultimate pearl of wisdom, the golden ticket, the mother and father of all secrets: your major does not equal your future. (And for the visual learners):

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Now, hold on, before you start flipping tables and declaring you are off to live in the woods with nothing but a hunting knife and your iPod, let me explain. I promise. There are many reasons (in fact three excellent ones) why your decision to get a college education was not only the right one, but also a rather exciting start to something great.

But first, let us dispel some more unrealistic, if not mythical, expectations.

Myths that Need Some Bustin’

1.“I don’t know what I want to do for the rest of my life (or my major for that matter), I am way behind.”

How many times during your first week of school did you have to introduce yourself by saying your name and your major? Well, here’s the thing about that particular social ritual—it isn’t terribly informative. Let’s say you major in math or English, that means you want to solve equations or read books for the rest of your life, right? No! That’s because (say it with me) your major does not equal your future!

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Keep in mind these four to five years of your undergrad experience are a jumping off point, a chance to collect new experiences, hone your interests, find out what you like, what you hate, what makes you gasp, and what makes you cringe. It’s important to have an academic plan, but these are the things that describe you as a student and person…not your major!

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2.    “My high school self should be able to handle my college life in the same way. What’s wrong with me?”

Let me start by referring to a blog that was posted last week on the differences between High School and College. Did you read it? Okay, so now you know that the pace of college life is a whole other animal. My high school-to-college animal looked something like:

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I think I nailed that metaphor…

My point is to allow yourself some time to adjust and be patient with yourself. You just entered a whole new world and now you have to keep up with classes and friends and family and… and… GOSH DARNIT just be kind to yourself, okay? You are handling everything just fine.

3.  “I should be joining ALL the clubs and going to ALL the parties and making ALL the friends. I’m not doing this right… what’s wrong with me?”

 Freshmen students ultimately climb into one of two boats at some point.

Scenario #1:  you don’t have enough hours in the day to go to all the events and club meetings and parties AND do the whole “school thing.”

OR

Scenario #2:  you are wondering how any one has time to even think about scenario one!

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Either of these scenarios is what happens when your life isn’t balanced. Whether you are focusing too much on your budding social life or losing yourself in your academic obligations, now is the time to find a routine that satisfies both. Everyone has seen this dilemma:

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I’d like to challenge this, because I’m not a UofA historian, but I’m 99.99% certain that social events and homework have always been (and will always be) around. A break from either will not change that, but here’s a trick (and the same goes for ice cream):

Don’t choose, MIX THEM!

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4.“A’s are for the people who belong in college. Needing extra help is admitting defeat and means I’m a dummy.

AH! Stop that.

Stop that thinking right there. Getting extra help is what the smart kids do. I don’t even know if I’m allowed to say “smart kids,” but it’s true. And here’s why:

Tutors = individualized attention:

Chances are you are in a 300+ person class right now (you know what that feels like). But do you know how wonderfully refreshing it is for one person to be talking to one person? And you can ask a question without needing a microphone? Ah…. so beautiful. Take advantage of it.

Office Hours = secret information

Whether you are talking with a preceptor, a TA, or a professor, these people have either just taken, graded, or written the tests you are about to take. Talk with them! Who knows what will come out of those little discussions…. HINT HINT.

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5. “Everyone else has got it together except me. I should not be struggling.”

              

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Excuse me, I’m sorry for laughing. That was rude. But this unrealistic expectation is by far the most destructive (and unfortunately the one I have found to be the hardest to get out of your head). Everyone—meaning freshmen, seniors, graduates, doctoral candidates, professors, Nobel Prize winners, retirees— everyone, everyone, everyone struggles along the way. Luckily your first year is designed for struggling!

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There’s nothing wrong with running across some obstacles. Some things I have found to help are:

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As long as you do, all that effort will ultimately get you to the place you want to be and you will have deserved it.

Now, I promised you some reason why college is still a good idea (don’t go heading for the woods just yet). Luckily we have debunked those myths, and now can replace them with what you can look forward to!

1. You Get to Recreate Yourself

…and discover your selves. You have many facets of your personality that will fight for the spotlight in the next few years and these different versions of yourself will surprise you along the way.

You want to try your hand at improv? Do it.

You want to finally learn how to draw human hands? There’s a class for that.

You want to run around in the mall in your underwear? Well… wait for the Undie Run. (Don’t just do that by yourself).

2. The People, The Places, The Things

You are going to meet people that make you question everything. Maybe it will be someone who goes against every belief you have, maybe it’s someone who you want to emulate because they are just so cool, maybe it’s someone who explains something in a way that you never thought about before. My point is that the diversity of this campus makes for some exciting interactions with a lot of different kinds of people, places, and even things! Where are these people? Depends on what you’re interested in

3. Education = Your Future

Yes. That equation looks much better.

I don’t mean to go all Uncle Ben on you and say “with great power comes great responsibility,” buuuut… it’s true. Remember how your major does not equate with your future? Well, here’s where our part, as students, comes in. What you choose to learn (and by learn I do not mean just study)—what you learn to experience, what you choose to take part in, and how you choose to grow—will ultimately bestow a mighty power onto you, Spiderman. As educated students, we get to use this time to figure out what we believe in, what we want to speak for or against, and how we are going to put that knowledge into action.

It’s a good thing we have giant dogs with teeth and wings, right?

–Franny Caputa

               

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