Allison is an Instructional Technology Specialist with the Lansing School District in Lansing, MI. Prior to this role, Allison was a middle school Social Studies and English teacher. She holds a BA in History and an MA in Educational Technology, both from Michigan State University. Allison blogs about her work at mrsktechnology.com.
Japnese Swordsmanship. History of Sexuality. Lady Gaga and the Sociality of Fame. These are just some examples of unique college courses offered around the country. College – the time when a student can explore life’s big questions, meet incredibly varied individuals from around the world, learn a new language, travel abroad, or immerse him or herself in Greek life. Whatever it is that piques your interest, I urge you to pursue it.
One of the best parts of college is the opportunity to discover. It is unlike any other time in your life. And, like most things, the majority of people don’t realize just how great it really is until it’s over – until you’re crouched over a computer in a cubicle, punching the clock, answering endless emails, and looking forward to the weekend. It is then that you look back on your time in college and regretfully kick yourself for not going out more, not joining the quirky Free Thinking Society, not attending the cheap movie nights held in Wells Hall, for not participating more fully in all the oddities and options that university laid at your feet.
When I first started school, I was the stereotypical wide-eyed coed. I came from a very small town and graduated with almost all of the same students I started kindergarten with – all 30 of them! College was an incredibly eye-opening experience, but I was not confident enough to fully appreciate all the opportunities and life lessons it offered. I took my required courses and a few classes that sounded interesting – but that still fit in to my major. I read about a lot of extracurricular groups. I saw flyers posted on campus bulletin boards, signs painted on “The Rock”, ads in the campus newspapers, emails, and groups clustered outside the library and other lecture halls. I did not take advantage of a majority of these opportunities. Instead, I forged tenuous friendships with the few people who sat near me in lecture, friendships that quickly fizzled away once our commonalities of complaining of the professor’s lack of organization or focus wore away. “I just don’t know what he is asking for on the exam,” was really all we ever bonded over.
Looking back, I wish I had been more outgoing. I cringe when I recall the excuses I made for myself. “I won’t know anyone.” “What if no one is nice to me?” “What if it’s not what I expected?” “I can’t really afford it, anyway.” I was so worried about the hypotheticals, the uncertainties, the “what ifs”, that I held myself back. While no one has the ability to time travel, if I could give my younger self some advice, it would be this – just go for it.
Simply doing the thing you think you might want to do will probably be worth it. Those times I did take a risk, put myself out there, attend a lecture, joined a group, it was so worth it. My freshman year I joined a group called MRULE – Multiracial Unity Living Experience. Set within several residence halls around campus, MRULE focused on creating unity among various racial groups, helping people to see the things we had in common rather than the things that divide us.
Find something that calls to you. Seek out the thing that whispers to you in your quiet moments. Look for the opportunity that makes you feel alive, that doesn’t represent work but rather the thing that energizes and challenges you. Go for it.