I don’t swim very well. That’s just a fact of nature that a 6’4″, 275 pound guy like myself learned to accept a long time ago. It should go without saying that anyone who wishes to judge my success as a person based on my backstroke is going to be sorely disappointed. College can be looked at the same way.
Story time: I began attending school here in the fall of 2011. Two of my fellow classmates, we’ll call them Matt and Jack for this story, also started college in the fall of 2011. Fast forward four years – while I am preparing to sweat through my robes as I walk across Paulson Stadium in May, graduation is nowhere in sight for Matt or Jack. In fact, both are no longer enrolled. A common reaction to that is to look at them as if they have failed. No one will say that out loud, but I can see it in people’s reactions.
Our whole lives we’ve been groomed to believe that you go to high school, and you get good grades and then you go to college. Hopefully you get good grades in college, but even if you don’t, as long as you get your degree, you have done what you are supposed to. You’ve succeeded. And now all you have to do is get a good job, but that is a shoe-in since you have a degree, right?
Well I have a problem with that. Not so much with going to college (because I believe it was a great move for me), but with the mindset that if you don’t succeed in college then you have failed. Call me crazy, but I don’t believe we were put on this earth to labor over MyMathLab. Furthermore, I don’t believe we were put on this earth to be sized up by how many questions we correctly answer on a brown ScanTron. Name one situation outside of a classroom in which someone hands you a multiple choice test. It doesn’t happen because life isn’t determined on paper.
So back to my buddies Matt and Jack. Neither did well in college. But I know for a fact that they are smarter than many of my friends who are in college. Is their GPA higher? No. But I am not worried about either of them being successful.
Matt can build anything. He knows more about how to fix things, anything – a car, a computer, a toilet- than anyone I’ve ever met. He always has a job, sometimes two, and works harder than any of us in school without a doubt. He speaks well, laughs easily and is a natural leader. But he isn’t a test-taker. He isn’t designed to memorize and regurgitate information. His skills lie in logic, and how to deal with real life problems.
I wouldn’t be surprised if Jack becomes famous one day. Jack can make friends with anyone on this earth, and can sell ice cream to an Eskimo. He’s one of those guys that you look up to as soon as you first meet him because he is charismatic and confident and makes you feel better just by being around him. He isn’t cut out to get an “A” in Business Statistics. But he is cut out to succeed, in whatever medium that may be, because he knows how to deal with people.
So if you’re struggling through college as you read this, relax. School might not be your thing, and that is quite alright. The people who make a difference in this world are those that know what they’re good at and pursue it. Find out what you do well and what you enjoy, and then go find out how to get paid for it.