I think it was Hellen Keller that said “Security is mostly a superstition. It does not exist in nature, nor do the children of men as a whole experience it. Avoiding danger is no safer in the long run than outright exposure.” That is a rather power quote. It is natural to want to feel secure but maybe it is time we all accept that life is one big daring adventure. You manage risk, you lessen the odds of bad things happening, and then you live as hard as full of love as you can. It is in the spirit of that attitude that we offer some more tips to enjoy and be successful at college.
Listen to everyone, don’t believe anyone. It is time for you to start your own narrative. It is time you claim your own personal philosophy. You should listen to what everyone has to say but don’t accept it as the truth until you have your proof. Everyone seems to be an expert today and even experts get old and loose their touch. I can’t tell you how many times I have heard an expert say, “You should study two hours a night for every hour you were in class that day.” Oh my God, I hold a PhD from what was one of the top four programs in the discipline and I never spent that much time studying. There were nights I studied way more than that but there many nights I didn’t study at all. These experts aren’t totally wrong, they just aren’t completely right. So listen to everyone. You can learn something from anyone. But don’t believe what you hear until you know it to be true.
One of the best ways to know you will make it through college is to go through a really painful breakup without resorting to substances, alcohol, or fighting. Seriously, most people go through five relationships before they find their life partner (that is older data, it could be different now). The divorce rate is so high now anyway, it would follow that a lot of relationships are not that stable anyway. So, on average, we each have four breakups to get through. Wow, that almost makes a breakup sound like a normal survivable thing…..because it is. Breakups can be fault-free; it doesn’t mean someone was wrong or unattractive. It just means most of us don’t know ourselves well enough to know who we want to be with forever so there will be some relationships that are fun but come to an end. There are no good guys, there are no bad guys, to paraphrase a popular song from my undergraduate years, there is only you and me and we just disagree. Sadly, some people are so narcissistic and vain that they explode into impotent rage when a breakup is suggested. And sadly, some people are so insecure and immature that they fall into a deep sadness when a breakup is suggested. I feel bad for those people and I hope they find a way to be more calm and self-accepting. But you know there are a lot of people that broke up in college and twenty years later can still talk to each other and appreciate the time they did spend together. So, yes, get out there and fall in love. And know that you are going to do it a few times and each time you are going to know more about you, other people, and love. And when the breakup happens, don’t assume it means you, or the other person, are unattractive, useless, dull, etc. You have to spend enough time to get to know someone to know if you want to keep knowing them which by then is too long to not know them. There is risk. Yes, you might get hurt. And it will be wonderful.
My opinion but after working with students for close to forty years I am pretty convinced that students rarely fail college because they are not smart enough. Most college students fail, drop out, or leave college because they had other burdens (family issues, medical issues, financial issues). Or they were trying to earn a degree that did not match their interests and skills. Final tip for the day is to spend time at the Career Center on campus. Get into the surveys and information they have that will help you identify careers and occupations that tap into your natural abilities and attitudes. Find what your heart wants, and you will find that you can do the work, make the grades, and get the jobs. Too many people aren’t listening to themselves; they are listening to what other people are saying. That is called foreclosure; when you let someone else decide who or what you are going to be. Spend your first year doing career exploration and the world will open up to you. Me, I am 64 and I still don’t know what I want to be when I grow up but I can tell you I have loved every job I have had so far…..and I have had really fun jobs.