Over time, a major misconception of the requirements of college has been created. The major one I’m talking about is the misconception that you have to be “smart” to go to college. If you aren’t, you’re out of luck.
Somehow over time “smart” also got correlated to having straight A’s in grade school and above. I’m not sure if this is because of what we are told as children or if it’s just a socially accepted misconception that continues.
Whatever the reason be, it’s inaccurate and far too vague and misleading to someone who is interested in attending college.
While straight A’s are a great accomplishment, you won’t be shunned from college because you didn’t graduate high school with a 4.0 GPA. Instead of college being for smart people with high grades, I believe college is for people who have character. By character I mean a set of qualities that help them succeed whether they get straight A’s or some B’s and C’s along the way.
The Character to Succeed
I wouldn’t consider myself “smart” but I would consider myself determined.
With my determination and commitment I earned my Associates degree in 2017 and my Bachlor’s degree in 2019. It took me many late nights and early mornings, mid-day breakdowns and pep talks to accomplish this.
It took bad days where I thought of dropping out and it took good days with success in my coursework to get my degrees. I know I’m not the only one who endured and succeed in college not because they were “smart” but because they were determined and committed to complete what they started.
In my opinion, college is for people who are resilient, have a strong work ethic, and know (or are willing to learn) how to persevere.
The Character of Resilience
College will be hard, I promise. Maybe not the whole time, but there will be moments, classes and semester that are harder than others.
These times will really test whether you’re going to college for the right reason. The right reason is different for everyone and tends to be pretty personal. Throughout your college career you may even fail an exam or two, be frustrated with a particular topic you aren’t just innately good at but I would encourage you to be resilient.
Resilience is the “capacity to recover quickly from difficulties”. Yes, that means you will have difficulties but it’s how you handle them and how quickly you handle them that makes the difference. That means put that failed exam behind you and be the boss of the next one!
The Character of a Strong Work Ethic
College is for people who have a strong work ethic. It’s for people who can remain professional, continue to produce quality work and demonstrate responsibly and discipline in their work. You will have to take classes and topics that you aren’t interested in or struggle in, maybe even one after another.
Despite the struggle and/or disinterest you have to find a way to stay engaged.
It’s important to work just as hard in those classes as you do in the ones you enjoy. Times like this test just how strong your work ethic is. You have to understand this will be a new life, because your old lifestyle cannot continue.
The Character to Persevere
College is for people who persevere. The majority of college students don’t just go to college full time but have many additional responsibilities on top of it. Many have full-time jobs to maintain and thrive at, and families to provide for.
Again, struggles will happen and problems will present themselves in your life outside of college while you’re working on earning your degree.
This is not the time to give up on yourself but it’s the time to create a plan, find solutions and continue on your path to higher education.
Don’t give up. Persevere through life’s situations and get the degree you were so determined to get when you applied to attend.
If you’re considering going to college, please don’t wait to start until you have “perfected” your resilience, work ethic and your ability to persevere.
Many of these characteristics will develop as you go and grow. I developed many of these characteristics throughout my college career and was personally tested continually.
Despite all the struggles I dealt with, both personally and professionally, I remained determined and committed to earn my degrees and build my future. That’s the beauty of going on the journey of attending college. It will teach you to be resilient to recover quickly from your falls, work hard and produce results and persevere when you want to quit. If you have the foundation and values of working hard and the desire to succeed, everything else will fall into place.
Rebekah A. Dull, BA
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