Like most students, I planned to graduate from college in four years. However, I have been on my undergraduate pursuit for seven years… and counting.

From 2004 to 2007, I attended Hampton University. But my journey came to a screeching halt when I became pregnant with my son, Montgomery.

College is laden with theory. Professors challenge students to think critically about the “what ifs” and “may bes.” Pregnancy, on the other hand, forces people to deal with reality.

Once I entered my newfound reality, I began to ponder the foundation of institutions of higher learning. In the “real world” society deems a collegiate degree as the only route to success. However, I’ve met countless individuals who have achieved success without the formal education and the lifelong debt that accompanies it. I’ve also met several people who have degrees in fields they never plan to work in.

Despite these findings, I’ve realized that my stance on college was rooted from my attitude while I was still in school. Instead of exploring all that college had to offer, my introverted nature led to my dismal matriculation. I was unaware of the possibilities that college had to offer.

Success is a road with many paths. The professional world and the academic world both have potential outcomes for success and failure. Know the advantages and disadvantages of both and choose wisely.

To the high school seniors who are considering the collegiate path, I’d like to share some news I wish I had known my freshman year: getting a degree is only one component of your college experience.

It is so much more than sitting in classes, studying information that you may or may not use professionally in the next five years.

College gives you license to creatively expand your realm of knowledge mentally, physically, spiritually and emotionally.

It is your chance to become more politically and socially aware through engaging in conversations and organized forums for the greater good of humanity. It is about taking this new found knowledge and actually applying it to inspire landmark resolutions to issues that we talk about every day.

It’s about uniting with peers from different parts of the globe with varying backgrounds and cultures and drawing from their diversity. It is about finding a balance between your traditional upbringing and your limitless resources to create a foundation of beliefs you can stand upon during uncertain times.

It is about building mentor relationships that will guide you through unforeseen periods in life. It is about reaching back to younger classes of students to help them cultivate their talents.

Once you graduate, your college experience has a great impact on your life thereafter, so I urge you to make the most of it.

Give H.O.P.E. Live H.O.P.E.

Christina Sturdivant
Guest Blogger

About the Author

Christina is the Executive Director of “Delivering Resources to Empower A Mother’s Life (D.R.E.A.M. Life) Inc.” D.R.EA.M. Life is a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization ,which provides mentorship and critical resources to young single mothers in the DC metro area.  For more information on D.R.E.A.M. Life, visit www.dreamlifedc.org. For personal musings, follow Christina on Twitter at @bossladysturdi. 

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