54°F & Clear 7 day forecast Thursday, April 17, 2014

Grand Valley State University's Beacon Since 1963, Allendale, MI
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Advice from a non-traditional student: persevere

I remember, long ago, when I first started thinking about what I might want to study in college. The possibilities seemed endless, and I still had trouble feeling confident in what I wanted to pursue. I always knew I wanted to do something that involved writing, but whenever I would express that to adults in the working world I would always be encouraged to try something more broad, like business or communications.

The problem was that none of that really interested me, but the overwhelming push to go to college and “figure it out when I get there” eventually clouded my vision of what I wanted to do, what I needed to do, and what was best for me personally.

Along came my freshman year of college, and in all my doubts I chose a pricey private school in hopes of finding some clarity. Instead I found a good hunk of debt and my envisioned clarity seemed like a far off dream.

I could tell you the whole story, but eventually, I dropped out of not only the private college, but out of GVSU as well. We are talking four weeks from the end of my winter semester. Looking back I always cringe. What a waste.

But I also try to look at the bigger picture. There was so much pressure from society to know what I wanted to do by the time I was seventeen years old. Everyone around me seemed to have a plan or at least have a tiny bit of direction. Where was mine?

I don’t want you to feel sorry for me, but by all means, feel free. The point I’m trying to make is that I still don’t have a set in stone path that I’m following. Just because I’m older doesn’t mean I have it all figured out. The difference this time around is that I’m listening to my own intuitions rather than the voice of society around me.

If you’re in that rut – wondering what the hell you’re doing, why are you the only one who doesn’t have it all figured out – stick it out. Clarity may not come, but if you follow your gut, you will very likely feel a lot less anxiety, and at least you’ll be doing what you enjoy. I also highly encourage you to not drop out towards the middle or end of any semester. That is not a fun bill to pay.



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