Learning outside the classroom essay

Kaitlyn is in her senior year at the University of Georgia working towards a major in public relations and minor in Spanish. She has had experience in all facets of communications, from non-profit to corporate internal communications. Currently, she is enjoying working for a local agency doing market research and analytics for clients. She has a passion for baking and has recently begun a small business making desserts for family affairs and parties of friends. In true entrepreneurial fashion, Kaitlyn ultimately wants to own her own cosmetic line and help restore confidence in women for business and for life.

This is it. After years of trying to speed up time, you’re finally about to embark on your first chance at freedom, independence and a life of your own. You’ve got it all figured out. Finish your undergrad in four, get accepted to one of the top law schools in the nation, meet your fiancé (because boys in high school were just too immature) and start your own firm by the time you’re 28. All you need to do is find balance, right? Read the book, kill the curve, ask questions and everything will go according to plan. Unfortunately, life doesn’t always reap what we think we sew. We get thrown curve balls we think we can’t catch, the tides turn and we think we’re not going to get back to shore. I’m going to get cliché and admit the greatest understandings I attained in college didn’t come from a lecture or a textbook. They came from experience, opportunities, but mostly, mistakes. When you leave after four, five, six or X amount of years, I’ll give you a preview of your syllabus to things you won’t learn in the classroom.
Resilience. Personally, college was hard, confusing, exciting, memorable, the best of times and the worst of times. Ever since I could remember, I had this plan. Finish my degree in four years, head straight to graduate school where I’d meet my future husband, and we’d live happily ever after. I was wrong- totally wrong. I was so ready for independence, that it surprised me how hard heavy my heart was when I realized how much I missed my mom. I joined a sorority, where I was very likable, and kept up the façade of a free-spirit who loved downtown and football games whilst still acing tests. On the outside I was golden, but inside I had no idea who I was or what made me happy. By junior year, I cracked. I had a lot of external factors weighing on my college life, and I took a year off. I felt like a failure, and I even thought about not going back. However, the human spirit has a way of picking itself up. I realized I owed it to myself to keep pushing though, no matter the end result. This reaches beyond the realms of college. Sometimes we have bad days, maybe even a bad year- that doesn’t mean it’s a bad life, so don’t give up.
Who you’re not. When I began my first year of college, I had no idea who I was. I still don’t, but I know what I’m not. It was hard for me to come to terms that I’m actually an introvert who likes to bake and watch Netflix at on the weekends, because I had a certain persona in high school that I felt obliged to carry into college. I’m supposed to be the funny girl and the life of the party who is extremely involved in PRSSA and has no problem with public speaking. I’m actually a whole lot of chaos, but it’s organized in truth so that’s all that matters. Be yourself, even if you don’t quite know who you are. If you don’t like it, don’t do it. If it doesn’t fit into your values, don’t act on it. You’re not here to survive to the next day that “may be better.” You are here to enjoy. Don’t let the opinions of others validate who you are or your happiness.
It doesn’t always go according to plan, or maybe it does. Most of what I mentioned can all be tied back to one major idea- it doesn’t always go according to plan. I came in pre-med, ready to be a doctor. Turns out, I actually hate science, math, blood, the smell of hospitals…. (the list can go on). It took a year to discover what I could give to the world, and I discovered how valuable my writing was and how easily I connected with people. I’ll end with a public relations major and Spanish minor. I was also adamant on living in the city when I graduated. Now I’m open to anywhere and everything. I’m a prime example of someone whose plan went indefinitely sideways, but still it still went in some direction. On the other end of the spectrum, I’ve known people whose college careers were immaculate. Every step was met, every deadline made. However, I will tell you that even with your version of a perfect college career, at some point in your life something will not go accordingly. Guess what you do- adjust! Life goes on.
I am the only one powerful enough to stop me. College is preparing you for when your life truly begins. When you leave that campus, there is no advisor telling you what classes you can and can’t take, no school code of conduct and no resident advisor telling you to keep the noise down. You are the only entity standing in your way. Don’t live in fear, especially of yourself. As easy as your own self can stop you, you can also set yourself free to do and accomplish anything you want. There will be times you want to be self-defeating and sit in self-pity. Times like this do something nice for someone else in order to get out of your head. Most importantly, never ever forget your value.

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