It’s Okay For Your Loved One to Change Direction in College

Imagine this: you are face-to-face with a handful of life-altering decisions that will impact your salary, your future and existing relationships, the place you live, and every move you make for the rest of your life. There are so many options, so many outcomes that you cannot see… You know what you should do? Ask a teenager!

No? Well, why ask them to do it for themselves?

Students nearing high school graduation are asked a series of questions, including: do you want to go to college, join the workforce, or join the military? This decision alone is massive.

For most, they have some idea. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, about 70 percent of high school grads in 2016 decide to pursue college. That decision was easy enough. What’s next?

Well, what college do you want to go to? In state? Out of state? Traditional or commuter campus? How will you pay for it? Will you get a four-year or two-year degree? What do you want to study? What do you want to do with that degree?

Along the way, these students face many more questions which are sometimes met with a shoulder shrug and best guess. How could anyone expect any more – there is literally no one less qualified to answer some of these questions.

The best that new students can do is follow their heart. But it is foolish to say that their heart will stay the same. The hard truth is that people change, especially when they are introduced to new people, experiences, and places: which perfectly characterizes the college experience.  

A change of heart can be seen in lots of ways. Some changes are small, like a new wardrobe or group of friends. Some decisions are more drastic: changing majors, transferring schools, or dropping out altogether. It is important to keep in mind that these big changes are not so uncommon.

About one third of all college students pursuing a bachelor’s degree change their major, and one in nine change it more than once (though, from personal experience, these numbers seem a little low.)  Over a third of college students transfer schools within six years of beginning. Only about 58 percent of college students finish their degree within six years.

Big decisions like these are massively common but are still perceived as eyeroll-inducing and cliché.

Sending a loved one to college should be a proud process of watching them learn and blossom into the best version of themselves. If this means changing directions, big or small, it should be met with warm encouragement, not disappointment. It is more important that students pursue what is best for them, not maintaining some perfect and uncomplicated image.

 Higher education is about expanding your worldview, and direction changes are only proof that it’s working.

The Anatomy of a Small-Town Summer

As the month of May melts into June, the air is getting warmer, school is coming to a close, and small-town kids like me are rejoicing over the summer season. I’ve noticed that in between backroad Sunday drives with the windows down, all our summers can be boiled down to the same few activities.

1. The weekly movie theater run

It’s a beautiful summer night with your closest childhood friends, feeling mischievous with nothing to do, and all the sudden someone says the infamous words… “I don’t know, you wanna see a movie?” Although a good trip to the theatre is a year-round routine, there is something about summer that makes you extra desperate for a good blockbuster. Let’s just hope this one is better than Batman v Superman

2. Lake days

In the case, heaven forbid, that you have seen every available movie in the theaters (several times), you can still have some wholesome summer fun. If you have a friend, a floatie, or a rug-tug family pontoon that is older than you are, you can have yourself a beautiful day on the lake. Or, if you’re like me, you could take a minimum wage job on the lake and watch sunburnt retirees zoom by on motorboats while you’re elbow deep in soft serve ice cream and bug spray. But remember, if you choose the latter option, do not be bitter.

3. Part-time jobs

You may be surprised to learn that there are more jobs in a small town than a lakeside ice cream slinger. You could sling ice cream plenty of places: the shop by the elementary school, the shop by the high school, the shop in the next town over… someone must keep up the most sacred of small-town establishments.

4. Bonfires

Everyone strives to have a moment in their life as enchanting and timeless as a rom-com portrayal of a formal gala, but the closest any small-town kid will come is a summertime bonfire. Burnt hotdogs and muddy sneakers may not be romantic, but who are we to turn our nose up to a cultural essential? If you just ignore the country music and catch some lightening bugs, you will have a summer night to remember.

The truth is, as much as I laugh about my cliché small-town upbringing, I wouldn’t trade these quirks for the world. I look forward to more summers filled with superhero blockbusters and soft serve ice cream.