“I never let schooling get in the way of my education.”
– Mark Twain
There’s way more to college than book learnin’. There are sporting events, concerts, intramural activities, art shows, theater, political demonstrations, philanthropic endeavors, guest speakers, and every possible club activity under the sun, from a cappella singing to rock climbing to Quidditch (Yes, there are even intercollegiate Quidditch competitions nowadays).
It’s all education. It’s a rich panoply of experiences that you may never again have within your daily grasp. When you’re part of a college community, you’re a built-in audience for famous and almost famous people who want to share stuff with you. As a result, ‘people will come,’ to quote that wonderful Field of Dreams line (look it up!) And, although there are myriad enrichment opportunities all around you on a college campus, you need to be ACTIVE and INTENTIONAL about getting the most out of them because, unlike high school, no one will force you to do anything. You can sit passively and watch the world go by rather than being a part of it.
Do yourself a favor: choose to be a part of it!
“I wanted to live deep and suck out all the marrow of life….”
-Henry David Thoreau
Okay. So, we already saw this quote when we were introducing the Carpe College! concept. That’s true. But it’s a great outlook, so we’re repeating it. Yes, Thoreau was talking about living in the woods, and we’re talking about moving beyond the books on a college campus, but the idea is the same. If you wish to truly experience the life you’re embarking upon, you need to do it deeply. Why? First of all, because you want to have a rich life. It will be more interesting and more exciting, and you’ll end up with better stories to tell. Also, the more exploring and experimenting you do, the better chance you have of finding your place in the universe. As mentioned earlier, Joseph Campbell called it “Follow Your Bliss.” Others have said things like, “Do what you love, and the money will follow.” The ideas are the same. You want to find something to love and find a way to spend your life doing that. At eighteen, however, how do you know what you love unless you try lots of stuff? Whatever it turns out to be, it’s probably not going to stroll up and tap you on the shoulder. It will require effort and experimentation and experience. Your college campus, with all its great offerings, is the perfect setting for this kind of experimentation and for this kind of experience. It can become your very own laboratory for finding your passion, for finding yourself. It just requires your effort. So, make the most of it.
(If you’re one of those fortunate few who’s already found what you love, or one who has had a very active and cosmopolitan high school experience, please be open to the fact that college will offer literally thousands of new academic subjects and extracurricular experiences that will be new to you. Even if you are happy with your set path, don’t miss out on the opportunity to soak in all that new bliss.)
Maybe finding your bliss or your place in the universe seems a bit too lofty at this stage. That’s fine. Let’s get crass (or practical) and set our sights on finding a job then. It turns out that everything suggested above – all that non-academic stuff – is also wonderful preparation for the practicalities of seeking employment. Of course, every time you plan your week, organize your life, study for a test, conduct research, take notes, work on a team, give a presentation, or think analytically, you are developing and honing important skills that will be marketable in the workforce. They are built into your academic pursuits. HOWEVER, there’s important stuff built into your non-academic life, as well, and we’ll explore that in the coming pages.
But, before we venture into this new terrain, let’s remind ourselves once again of our mantra:
“Know thyself. Have a Plan. Assume No One Else Cares.”
Weather it’s finding cool campus events, finding yourself socially, or finding a career path that seems right to you, this mantra can be your guide.