At 18-years-old, I had graduated salutatorian of my high school. That fall, I moved out of the comfort and safety of my parents’ home and started college with my long time goal of becoming a doctor. I was ready… or so I thought I was.
We learn in physics that for every action, there is a reaction. Changes in your living and educational environments are actions to which all college students must react. Whether you are living at home or on campus, you now hold the highest stake in your education than anyone else. There are no more calls from the teacher; there is no more detention. It’s just you and your priorities.
My reactions were entirely too slow to the actions taking place around me. Cramming homework or study time did not quite work in college like it might have in high school. I found that out the hard way. My first year in college ended very dismally. The, once, salutatorian had failed one class and barely passed two others. If I were the same person that I was in high school when I first entered college that fall, I wasn’t anymore!
I realized that I was standing in my own way. It would be very easy to blame my surroundings or anyone else, but I alone had the responsibility to realize that something was wrong. Having received very discouraging advice from my assigned advisor my freshman year, I decided I could do it on my own. While my grades improved over the next couple of years, I had cornered myself by not taking many of my major classes. In other words, I was looking at 3 or 4 science courses in one semester. Panic set in.
Reality finally hit… I sought the help of my Associate Dean, who was extremely encouraging and supportive of my goal. We created a plan whereby I would graduate, albeit, a year later than I originally anticipated. But she also gave me advice on other paths to reach my get to medical school.
The lesson learned from this experience is that I can either be my biggest investor or my biggest competitor. I realized that my failure to seek advice or mentorship was competing (and winning) with my ability to succeed! From that point on I decided to become my biggest investor.
With new-found ownership of my future, I worked several jobs to pay for post-baccalaureate courses, the MCAT, and eventually my medical school applications and interviews. But my investment was not about making the money to fund my educational needs, it was about disciplining myself to achieve my goals. It was about managing my time, studying instead of cramming, knowing when to forfeit extracurricular activities. Today, I am proud to say that I am reaping a great return on my investment!
You are investing in your future, so nurture your investment. Change those habits that might hinder you and strengthen those that will help you. Engage mentor BEFORE you encounter trouble. You will be well on your way to reaping the return on your own investment, Dr (insert your last name here).