Why would someone who loved her college experience, loves school, in general, and learning, specifically, launch a post with such a dark title?
Because I’ve chatted with so many folks who hated college, witnessed others firsthand who struggled with it and know some now who are just drifting through the halls of a university or community college, numbed out, going through the motions.
College can be a great place to thrive, explore, connect, collaborate, and expand your purview, but for some it’s a prison.
Although there have been great strides in higher education, for many, this social institution is still doing the whole learning thing, generally speaking, in an antiquated way.
And, even if the approach was in perfect alignment with our cultural and social ways of being, it still would not be the best option for everyone.
College isn’t a magic pill that propels you successfully into your next phase of life.
College classrooms filled with students stuffed in small desks for an hour or more listening to a lecture can be painful way to broaden your horizons.
For those whose Kryptonite is boredom and routine (yes, I just referred to a fictional radioactive element that brings the fictional character, Superman, to his knees to make a point), college grabs their spirit around the neck and squeezes until a little of them dies with each experience.
Many skip class or only show up to take the tests to avoid this brush with a slow and painful death.
Others attend, dutifully and faithfully compliant, but spend the entire class surfing social media, chatting with friends and who knows what else on their magical devices.
If you find yourself planted in soil that does not support your personal and professional growth, it’s probably time for some crucial conversations.
First with yourself, then with the powers that be – parents, professors, college personnel, etc. Someone who will really listen to your plea and provide some solid transition advice.
The BriJBrand Crew is also a great option. We’re committed to exploring ways to connect with you privately and via groups. Stay tuned…
Thriving vs. Surviving
Consider a living plant – a tree, a bush, a flower, you get the point. We’ve all seen foliage that thrives. The leaves are strong, the color deep and almost hypnotic, standing erect, a feast for your eyes and if it’s a fragrant plant, a delight to your sense of smell. To blossom in a healthy way, these plants require quite a bit.
Maybe you have and maybe you haven’t, but if you’ve ever bought a plant, they often come with a little plastic insert in the soil. What’s on that insert? What that particular plant needs to thrive.
It may tell you what kind of soil to plant it in, the ideal distance from other plants, how much sunlight it needs, how much water, any replanting instructions and perhaps more information to ensure it lives for a long time and thrives while doing so.
People are really no different; we’re not born with a plastic insert stuck in our belly buttons (or other places), but some of us probably wish we were.
How cool would it be to have each child slide out of the womb, ribbon-tied to an owner’s manual chocked full of detailed instructions and how tos that are very specific to that child’s healthy growth?
Instead, we have to make a go of it, do the best we can through observation, experience, and trial and error. Challenging, yes, but far from impossible.
Getting back to our college-can-stunt-your-growth discussion; if this is the case with you, there are other ways to get what you need to flourish. Perhaps the university setting isn’t your thing, but maybe a community or technical college is not too hard, not too soft, just right.
Perhaps spending some time working right out of high school for a year or so will give you some time to step into an unfamiliar role that allows you to get reacquainted with yourself.
According to the American Gap Association, “A gap year is an experiential semester or year ‘on,’ typically taken between high school and college in order to deepen practical, professional, and personal awareness.”
Have you considered taking a gap year?
These organizations have pulled together programs and experiences packed with options. And, there are numerous testimonials from real students who have benefited from this approach.
Instead of jumping into an overly structured academic setting, take advantage of the many online courses offered through a variety of institutions around the world, low cost to FREE.
You can take some of the world’s best courses online from anywhere at your own pace. A great way to do some exploring on your own!
The truth is: college CAN stunt your growth if the way it’s structured doesn’t align with your natural rhythm (more about this in future posts).
It can simply be a go-through-the-motions game where you come out the other side with a load of debt and no clear path to your next stop.
That’s not the kind of game you want to play.
The struggling, numbing out, and going through the motions can establish a pattern easily dragged into your worklife, into your life.
So, grab the defibrillator paddles now and start the resuscitation process before it’s too late.
First, do some research. Visit the sites above and a few others to determine your learning platform(s) of choice.
Grab a pad or pull up a blank screen on your computer and start writing or typing out what excites you. Make an exhaustive list. Think about what what you tend to read, the sites you tend to visit, the folks you like to hang out with and what you like to talk about. These are all clues.
After you decide on a learning platform or two, sign up and start looking through the course selections. If free is what you’re looking for, identify free classes in your area of interest. If you’re cool with a monetary investment, select whatever class(es) excite(s) you.
Select only one or two at a time, which will, most likely, enhance your experience. Then set aside an allotted amount of time each week to take the course(s). Be very intentional about this whole process.
If your energy is high in the morning, setup an hour or two in the morning. If your energy is high midday or the evening, setup an hour or two during one of these periods.
You have to commit to the process and create a routine. It’s SO easy to waste time and money if you’re not focused and disciplined. Routines can be our friends. Just think about your routine of brushing your teeth, and taking a shower or bath everyday. When we establish a routine, our brains don’t have to work so hard to get things done.
After we (BrijBrand) get a good feel for where students are struggling in this area, we’ll create a solution, tool or something cool to support you. Stay tuned…
In the meantime, get busy researching some of the above online learning platforms. Start today, within the next 24 hours. Determine which days and what time of day you’re going to dedicate to this process. And, start exploring. Make it fun. You got this!
Robbi Crawford, The Student’s Mentor, Author and Speaker is the founder of BrijBrand.co. Subscribe to our blog below and join the BrijBrand community; we’ll keep you in the loop about what we’re building for YOU, a safe place to land when you’re feeling stuck, want to get focused and need some useful info, targeted help & genuine support!