5 July 2012

Why Are You Going to College?

posted by Meaghan Milliorn

The following is a guest post written by Jon Vickers, academic counselor for the department of nursing.

So, why are you going to college?

Inevitably, as college students you will get asked this question at least 100 times. Also inevitably, our responses are the same drab pre-packaged clichés. I want to make money, I want to help people, I don’t know – it’s better than working. We respond like a star athlete at a press conference, full of generic responses and rhetoric. But shouldn’t we have a pretty darn good answer to this question? Shouldn’t we have a very concise and proper response to why we are taking on thousands of dollars in debt? For why we are dedicating four to eight years of our life, putting family, career and fun on the back burner?

And after the person hears your generic answer the follow up question is always “Well, what do you want to do after graduation?” Now, if ever a time for a true impassioned response, this is the perfect opportunity. Trust me, there won’t be many more times in your life where people outside of your immediate family have genuine curiosity about your future plans. But again, almost inevitably, we fail to convey any true concept of what it is we plan to do. We state our career field – I want to be a social worker, an architect, a nurse. Or our degree – I am going for marketing, or music, or journalism.

Maybe we don’t really know the answer to these rudimentary questions we hear literally dozens of times each semester. Maybe we never really thought about it. But there are people who have; those who already went through it.

See, all too often we don’t realize the true reason we pursued higher education until that time has come and gone and we live our chosen profession every day. It’s after that journey we truly realize our motives. So at the risk of giving you a spoiler alert for your life, I am going to tell you why you are going to college.

You are going to college to see the glimmer in the eye of an oncology patient just because you smile every time you walk into his room. To give a young child a sliver of hope, after a lifetime of abandonment and abuse. To build something that will stand long after you do. Maybe you are going to college to teach a 12 year old to love science, to write a story that thousands of people will see, or design a website that millions will view. To give a person with a speech impediment a chance to live a normal life, which is all they ever wanted.

The reason you are going to college is not just to make more money or provide a better life for your children. It’s so your children don’t have to wait tables at night to pay for college. It’s so you can have your name on an office door instead of your shirt. It’s so you can look at your parents and say “I did it because of you” or maybe even “I did it in spite of you.”

Take a moment and really think about why you are investing this enormous amount of time, money and energy. Talk to people in your field of interest. The next time someone asks you that all too common question, you may be able to articulate better to them and more importantly, to yourself.

My name is Jon Vickers and I am an Academic Counselor for the UALR Department of Nursing. I went to college so I could help others fulfill their dreams of a better life. Of course, I just figured that out. Back then I was just going to meet chicks.

10 Responses to “Why Are You Going to College?”

  1. Tekeytha Martin says:

    I have been asking myself this question a lot lately!! Thanks for making it so clear to me. I would love to meet with you and talk about my education. I’m interested in nursing at this moment. Would like more information and a better view of it. Hope to hear from you soon.

  2. Jane D Evans says:

    Jon, thanks for saying what most us feel but rarely articulate.

  3. Patricia Schafer says:

    Jon met a chick and has a beautiful family and is a great guy to work with!

    Thank you Jon for all you do…,

  4. Karen Suen says:

    Thank you Jon for the perfect dialogue regarding choosing a profession!! I have never regretted my choice to be a nurse. It’s hard to describe the reward nursing offers I have never had a nursing job I didn’t like. Pediatric ICU, head & neck cancer nurse, clinic nurse , Hospice, & chemotherapy nurse. I have met many wonderful patients who have given me insight into life, family, & living life to the fullest!!
    Now, working in academics is so fun, & challenging!
    I continue daily to learn new things & meet great people. Students & faculty!!!

  5. I waited for what it seems a lifetime to attend college. Now I am getting ready for my Junior year and I finally understand why I’m here. I’m here to face the fears that held me back when I was younger, I’m here to finally become the person I want to be and not what someone says I should be, and I’m here to take the world by storm when I graduate with that History degree.
    I’m going to college to realize my dreams for once, the dreams that I gave up a long time ago. So when I am asked that question “Why Am I Going To College?” I can say with a smile , “I’m going so I can realize my destiny.”

  6. Samantha Costello says:

    As a nursing student, I have to say that the full reality of why I struggle every day to prioritize family, clinical, lecture, reading, reading, and more reading plus assignments and paperwork won’t come to me fully until I am an RN. However, I can say that I am doing this for all those generic reasons AND because something inside me said that this is who I am. I am a compassionate and sensitive person; I have ALWAYS found medicine interesting enough to ask questions beyond the “need to know” stuff and, I need a job where I feel like I’m making a significant difference.
    At 17 years old I enlisted in the Coast Guard because I wanted to save lives. At 25 years old I went back to college to be a nurse because I want to save lives. God made me a lifesaver to the core and I intend to imbrace that.
    Thank you for your wonderful post Mr. Vickers.

  7. Treasure says:

    Thank you so much Jon for posting this important message. I too get tired of people saying that they are going to college to make more money or because it’s better than working. We are living during times when people question the worth of a college education. We as a society decide to go to college not for the money we will make when we are finished, but for the quality of life we one day hope to lead. We are going because we do not want our children to struggle as we once did and to show people in our families, communities, or houses of worship that just because something haven’t been achieved in your life time or your circle of peers do not mean you can not aspire to achieve something greater. There is nothing wrong with wanting more, seeking more, and dreaming BIG!!!

    Thank you

  8. Dmitriy says:

    Jon, thanks for good post.
    I decided to go to the college just because I like studying. And helping people as well. Anв don’t forget about money. Maybe it’s less important, but still withiut money you can’t fulfill your dreams.
    Thank you again!

  9. Kenneth says:

    Im going to college to assist myself in being able to do more for others,

  10. leslie says:

    I am going to college to better my life, to better my family’s lives. I am trying to earn a degree so I can open my own restaurant someday.

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