Open Letter to the Professional College Student

As I enter into what is potentially my final year of college, I have a new-found appreciation for patience.

Not in the “waiting in line at the supermarket” sort of patience; I’ve always been okay in that sense. I’m talking more about the perseverance type of patience. The kind it takes to, in my case, help you survive the stigma that comes with being a professional college student.

Here’s a breakdown. Take that how you will.
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I started my college career in 2010. Yeah, that long ago. I’ve encountered a few things along the way that have delayed my journey. Still, no matter what excuses I provide for my years of undergrad, I’ve always felt like a failure as I’ve watched students come and go. I’ve often felt like an underachiever, as the 4.0 kids get to the finish line before me.

However, as I get closer to the day I never thought would finally happen, I’m struck with the fact that I’m not a failure. Not really. I’ve just been looking at it all wrong.

I always wanted to go away to school, and I guess the fact that I decided to stay home always made me feel like less of a student. With that attitude, I never truly felt like I was going anywhere. I watched as my grades slipped and my friends all left; some graduated, some transferred, and others gave up on college altogether. I even allowed myself to take some time off, unsure what my path was.

As an indecisive person, I flip-flopped through a few different majors. Taking handfuls of what are now useless courses certainly didn’t help me in my climb to academic success. I’ve often regretted the fact that I didn’t have a clear sense of what I needed to study from the beginning.

See what I mean by excuses?

It took me a while to understand, but finally it became clear:

It doesn’t matter where you choose to learn. It only matters that you do.

Continuing your education is something that will be beneficial to you. It doesn’t matter if you get a bachelor’s degree, an associate degree, or some certification in your chosen field. It just matters that you take the steps to build on your knowledge. Learning is a continuous thing; we’re never truly finished.

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You don’t have to have a perfect plan.

I’ve often heard the phrase, “We plan, God laughs.” In my college career, this has certainly been the case. It doesn’t matter what you think you know about your future. You can easily take one course (Introduction to American Literature) or one instructor, that makes you realize you don’t want to continue a particular journey. So, it’s okay to go a little off-path. Just make sure you find another path; sometimes it’s a path to a new destination.

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It’s not a race. Everyone will be moving at a different pace.


It doesn’t matter if you’re a college senior approaching your mid-twenties, or a senior citizen with twenty credit hours. You just have to do your best. And when you don’t, because you won’t always, you just have to try harder next time. We all have things going on. We all have different aptitudes of learning. We all have different things that can delay our progress. Don’t let that stop you. You’ll get there.

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So, keep going at the pace you’re going. Kick things up a notch when you can. Take a step back when you need to. You are the only one who knows what it will take to get you where you want to be. Stop judging yourself based on the example provided by others.

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