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.