Tuesday, December 17, 2013

As Graduation Day Approaches...

Two finals and one paper are the only things left in my way before I receive my degree. I should really be studying for those finals (Anatomy and Biochemistry), but I think it's equally as important to reminisce about my time here at UNL. The next few days I will put together some of my favorite times here, and some of the most important things that I've learned. Stay tuned.

I believe whole-heartedly that everyone can earn a degree. Some people spend 7-10 years working on this accomplishment, and some, like Jake and I, do it in three (or three and a half). No matter how long it takes, the degree is just as valuable, and the accomplishment is great. 

Potential barriers for not even trying to earn a degree include fear of failure, money, and effort. Fearing failure is not a dumb obstacle that stands in the way of many. I've seen kids who come from families where it is not expected for their children to attend college. They may not have the support of their families, and even if they do, they may not feel "adequate" or "smart enough" to fit in to a college environment. I've seen classmates struggle with this, and I know some who have dropped out. I've seen those who, when faced with strife, continue to try harder  at school, visit with professors, look for extra credit opportunites,  and do all that they can to succeed. They are truly inspiring.

Money is one of the most common reasons that people avoid a degree. Money is a big deal, debt is scary, and without the help of anyone it may seem impossible. There are SO, SO MANY financial aid opportunities for those that need it. Pell grants and federal aid will cover most of your tuition and sometimes even some of your housing. In addition to federal grants, universities offer need-based aid as well. Part-time jobs also help tremendously with housing expenses, and, in my opinion, a little bit of debt is worth this investment. 

"Too much effort" is my least favorite excuse - especially when it comes from students who are fortunate enough to have financial and family support for working towards a degree. There are many quotes centered around the idea "nothing great in life worth having is easy." I realize that every individual has different capacities for learning (and different interests!!), but different degrees have different difficulty levels so that shouldn't be something that holds you back.  If you happen to choose to work towards a degree that is too difficult ....well, it happens, and you can pick something else. Yes, college requires more effort then what you put in during high school. (Well if you went to FHS, this is the case for sure). 

BUT if you have a degree, you have freedom and power and greater opportunities as you try to live the American Dream. 

My degree will be in Anthropology. I don't exactly wish to travel to Egypt and uncover artifacts, nor do I want to get stung by scorpions while I'm searching for ancient hominids. Basically, I wanted to add to this that it's important to be wise with your choices for your degree and think about the question that haunts most students throughout their time working in college: "What do you want to be when you grow up?" Besides working at Morrill Hall (which would be fun for me), my degree is not that applicable to finding jobs here during my semester off before medical school - but that's OK with me. Some degrees are applicable to many fields, and some aren't, so assess the risks and job opportunities you are interested in before "wasting" time and money. 

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