College student advice

My name is Bianca and I am currently getting my Masters in Public Policy at American University in Washington, DC. I graduated from the University of Portland in 2013 with a Bachelor of Arts in Political Science, Communication, and Spanish. Being someone that dove right into graduate school after undergrad, I have a strong perspective on my time in undergrad, and the path I took to continue my studies.
Going to college is no longer a 4-year venture for some students. Going off to college, graduating, and getting a job are a reality for a lot of students in the United States. Unfortunately, that can’t be a reality for everyone, especially those pursuing the world of Liberal Arts. In navigating my majors, I thought to choose focuses that were collaborative. I chose Political Science because I was interested in politics and policy. I chose Communication because I started college thinking I wanted to be a political writer. I chose Spanish because having a language under your belt is one of the most useful resume builders. All three of my majors built off one another and gave me a skillset unlike many students. I created my own focus by interacting with my professors and creating a portfolio that brought together aspects of all my majors and really worked to my interests.
At the beginning of my senior year in college, I took a look at my prospects for employment and what I ultimately wanted to do with my life. In the midst of everyone asking, “What are your plans for after graduation?” I broke out into panic mode and applied to every possible postgraduate opportunity. I submitted graduate school applications, went through the TFA and Peace Corps application process, applied to endless jobs, and finally decided that I wanted to build a career path and get my Masters. Going into grad school right from undergrad is not heavily recommended, because of the great amount of debt students so early run into. However, I thought two more years would feel like nothing so I carried on in pursuit of a more narrow focus and I could not be happier. My undergraduate degrees gave me the skillset to be successful in life and in grad school; however, my graduate courses have allowed me to explore a different world of career possibilities with a very narrow focus. In undergrad I found my interests and in grad school I really feel like I have found my passion and motivation.
I think that is the important part of finding your niche in college, finding a focus that really motivates and drives you. So often students can’t find what they’re fully interested in because one path might not be the right way for them to go. I always suggest talking a variety of classes to peak your interest and work with your advisor to find what works for you! Getting a college education is only one step in securing success in your future, you also really need to love what you’re doing, so that everyday you can feel motivated to keep up the work and be proud of all that you have achieved.

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