Cutting Your Own Path
Blogger: Griffin Taylor
For those of you who follow these admissions blog posts, I have to admit these are starting to feel pretty weird to write. I still have trouble coming to terms with the fact that I’m a senior in college, let alone that I’m halfway through February... Which means I’m basically halfway though my last semester... Which means I’m basically a real live person with commitments and 401Ks and retirement to worry about. Either way, though I’m still sipping from the font of youth (or at least I think I am), I’ve been around just long enough to understand that there were various paths that I could have chosen in college, and each of them included different experiences and lessons there within. And while any senior is susceptible to hearing the footsteps of the regret monster approaching fast behind them just as they near graduation, I’m here to tell you that whatever path you choose in college is a legitimate one.
When you get to college, the number of courses and areas of study at your disposal can seem exhilarating and daunting at the same time. Some people take two weeks to decide they want to complete the 3-2 engineering program, and others take two years to land on a Religious Studies major they never thought they’d grow to love. No matter what courses you take at Oxy, you’re going to get a stellar education; that’s what it means to be a student of the liberal arts. You get to dip your toe in so many different classes, different subjects, professors, and styles of learning that you’re head will spin how many different ways you’ve expanded your mind during your time as an undergraduate. So it doesn’t matter that you never got to take that one class you swore you’d take since freshman year. Instead of taking that class, you were busy with other courses, learning in different ways. If you’re looking at the liberal arts, there are likely at least four different majors that you could have ended up studying. I always say that in another life, I would have been an economics major or a theatre major. I ended up a politics major, and that was the path that I took. And while it might be nice to know a little bit more about interesting things like exactly how a particular economic policy might affect unemployment within the oil industry during the winter months, I know I would have regretted not having the time to take my favorite course during my time at Oxy, The American Presidency. In some respects trade-offs is the name of the game.
When it comes to study abroad, the options to have the experience of a lifetime really are endless. If you think about it in terms of opportunity cost, you’ll accomplish nothing aside from getting yourself depressed thinking about all the fun things you could be doing. When you choose to go to study in China, yes: you’re foregoing literally all of the other experiences you’d be having if you chose another program. But you’re also actively choosing an adventure in an of itself, packed with all kinds of people and places that will supplement your college experience, and ultimately, your life. Keyword: actively.
Even more than trade-offs, college is about decisions, which is actually more comforting than it is daunting. You get to make friends with whom you were really meant to make friends with, involve yourself in pursuits and causes you were really meant to engage in, be who you were really meant to be. Of course, it’s scary when you get to the point where you’re on your own, and your decisions have consequences. But you also get to make your own path, find your own way. And because you’re cutting your own path, that path is legitimate.
This is something I cannot stress enough. There are an endless number of voices pushing you in more directions than you can count. Whether it’s your parents telling you to get X job, your friend telling you to move to X city, or your conscience telling you not to take risk X, it’s impossible to ignore all of them. Rather, as someone who is nearing the end of their college career, it is my job to tell you that it’s okay to hear those voices. You should hear those voices, and you should acknowledge them. Heck, you might even want to take advice from some of them. But your life is your own. It always has been, and it always will be. You’re in the drivers seat when it comes to picking a college, registering for classes, studying abroad, and all of your decisions afterwards. So buckle up, wring the steering wheel, and kick it into gear four: you’ve got some trailblazing to do.