From The Classroom To A Student Of Life: Reflections on My College Journey

By: Shaunese Johnson

Deciding what to major in during college is a big topic of debate for most people, and as a result,  many students opt to be undecided  or even  decide to put aside their education until they’re ready to pursue a degree. Even after choosing a major there is no guarantee of a dream job, steady income, or even job stability. I recently stumbled across  a quote stating,

“Youths are forced through schools that don’t teach, then forced to search for jobs that don’t exist, and finally left stranded in the street to stare at the glamorous lives advertised around them.” This quote is an accurate depiction of how modern-day college students can feel during and after graduation, not to mention social media can give depictions of the glamorous or “perfect,” lifestyles of others.

While being inspired by the success of others, keep in mind there is always more to a person’s journey than a picture, a Twitter status, or a story on Facebook, many people will not broadcast their rejections, hours of hard work, etc. it took to reach a certain point of their life.

My undergrad college journey has recently ended, but I can’t even count the number of times where I have deemed my degrees as “useless,” due to the perceptions of others, and society as a whole. When I entered college, I was a Health Science major, and thought I wanted to be a Physician Assistant. It wasn’t necessarily because I truly wanted to, but I looked into how much I could potentially earn.

After one semester and barley passing the introductory Health Science courses that didn’t interest me, I quickly switched my major. I decided to double major in Child/Family Studies (Human Relations) and Communications, Media, and Technology, and now I have obtained my Bachelor of Arts and Bachelor Of Science Degrees. In the future I aspire to work in a Higher Education multicultural affairs department and/or a Public Relations Specialist.

Over time I began to “punish,” myself because I never felt I was where I should be in life. Take my recent graduation reception. Instead of attending, I decided to stay home, where I had  overwhelming anxiety attacks, while questioning my choices (including my degrees) and where I was headed with my life. I didn’t see the accomplishments I had made thus far such as my internships, having a job (as I continue to search for better), my overall college experience, and other events in life that helped shape me into a strong person.

The problem is some of us feel “forced,” into choosing a major at the age of 17/18, then worry we will have to work at a certain  occupation for the rest of our lives, not looking at the possibilities of other pathways. Placing a heavy emphasis on where you should be in life financially, socially, mentally, spiritually, at a certain age is the quickest way to diminish your joy, and ultimately make you unappreciative of the steps you have and will take to reach your goals.

Growth is not a race, but a journey of continuously creating yourself by self-exploration. The beauty of college is the variety, and the different individuals you will cross paths and connect with. College is a time where you will connect with a variety of individuals who share different passions, aspire to have different careers, and have a unique story to tell and share with the world. You will also discover what you’re passionate about, and to see what you excel at whether it be a STEM major or a Non-Stem major. Here are a few things to remember both during and after your college career.

1.Disconnect yourself from labels/ Materialistic items

Disconnect your self-worth from your bank account, your major(s), your job, the car you drive, the clothes on your back, and see what your left with. A human being with the right to explore, with a purpose, and a person who has a passion to pursue what they want. You’re not stuck or “hopeless,” because you don’t know what career you want, you’re just undecided, and thats okay. You are multidimensional, and have time to find yourself and what you believe your purpose is.

2.Figure Out What Makes Your Soul Happy

Figure out what YOU want to do in life. Not how your friends want you to do, not what your parents want you to do, but what YOU want to do. If you haven’t figured it out at by a certain age, there’s nothing to be ashamed of. Your success, growth, and happiness is not a race, and careful consideration of your choices should be evaluated, therefore take your time.

3. You Don’t Have to Answer The “What Could You Possibly Do With That Major,” Question Or Defend The “You’ll Never Find A Job In That Major,” statement.

I (as I’m sure many others) have heard this countless times. At first I felt a “need,” to defend myself. Over time I have learned you don’t owe an explanation to anybody in regards to your lifestyle choices. Not everybody will see or even understand your vision. As long as you’re happy with your journey and at peace with yourself, don’t worry about the thoughts of others. Remember the opinions of others aren’t a reflection or depiction of your reality.

4. Educate Yourself After College And Throughout Life.

Besides continuing your education (if you choose) keep yourself educated by books, experiences, creating your own /brand business, taking leisure classes, etc. to keep your mind flourishing. Keep in mind real life experiences have the best lessons and now you have a vast world to explore outside the classroom

For those in college working towards a degree and recent graduates, as minorities who had to literally fight for equal education in the past, I hope you commend yourself for your determination, strength, perseverance, and defying all odds. Regardless of what you choose to major in, the world needs more minorities/Women of Color in all sectors and representations.

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