No doubt you’ve entered college with one thing on your mind: you were going to do it all. You were going to join all of the clubs, participate in all of the club sports, go to all the parties. You’d maintain a reasonable courseload, perhaps ask your favorite professor out to coffee for an informational interview, and study for midterms starting in September. No FOMO for you these four years, you might’ve told yourself.
Any of this sound familiar? No? That’s fair. Perhaps you’ve went into the most expensive periods of your life with other ideas. No judgment. But if today, you’re inching through junior or senior year and that bucket list you made as a first-week freshman looks nothing like the reality you’re living today, it might be time to hit reset.
It’s easy to start feeling comfortable, to lose sight of the short and long-term goals you might’ve set for yourself at the outset. You find your social circle, your sweet spot of activities you’re involved in (or lack of), and scrape by in academics. College is breezier than you thought, except for those two weeks in December and June when you have to pull all-nighters to pass.
Glenn Beck attended Yale at 30. Having found success early on in radio and TV, he was making a quarter of a million dollars by the time he was 25. But when he found himself depressed, a highly-functioning alcoholic with poor relationships, he did a tally of his life. And he enrolled in one of the most prestigious institutions in America, with little left to his name financially. At 30, having lived a decade of his life in ways we can only dream of, he decided to attend college for the first time with one thing on his mind -- he was going to get every cent worth of what that education was going to cost him.
What did that look like? It doesn’t matter. It’s different for everyone. But if you’re one of the lucky ones who doesn’t have to pay for your schooling, understanding how ginormous those costs are and what that means should change your easy peasy perspective on why you’re here. You need to be asking yourself, “Am I making the most of college?” Get real and honest with what the answer to that question is -- and act accordingly.
Because you’ll never have four years where every minute of the day is nearly devoted to yourself: in self-improvement and development, in learning, in socializing, in getting physically active through a slew of activities available to you, in networking with influential people who could change your life and trajectory, in broadening your understanding of the world and who you are. You, or someone, is also paying a lot for this experience. It’s time to take a tally of how well you’re using this opportunity.
Go back to the mindset you had as an incoming freshman. What were all the things you wanted to do and accomplish then? Who did you see yourself becoming in four years? What were your dreams -- not for a post-college profession, but for what these four years of your life were to look like? What did you see your daily routine looking like?
Take stock of how many of those answers match up to what you’re actually living today. If many don’t, it’s time to start another list. Answer all of those questions with your 18-year-old hat on -- not who are you today, because who you are today is the person who’s lounging in a comfortable nest. Think about you at your most ambitious, motivated age, and write out exactly everything you thought you’d do, be, see, learn, experience during your collegiate years.
Once you have that list, it’s time to start thinking about how you can make small changes every day to getting there. Did you think you’d get into the best shape of your life in college? Great. How can you start implementing healthier practices today, tomorrow, so you can achieve that? Stop by the gym and pick up a class workout schedule. Go to the rec center and see what club teams are available to join. Hell, go to baseball tryouts. Take one small (or large) step, like looking up Crossfit gyms or running clubs in the area, and take small moves to get there.
What you’ll find is that simply in the act of doing -- of moving beyond your comfort zone, doing something that feels new or foreign -- you’ll gain more than you think. Moving, albeit slowly, towards goals (hey, even having girls is halfway there!), can often provide as much satisfaction as actually achieving them.
The point is -- just do something, and do something that resonates or reflects the person that you thought you’d become during your time in college.
It’s just too expensive not too.