serious stuff

Combating the Futility of College

Alternative Title: How You Too Can Be a Contributing Member of Society…Now!

There’s an amazing phenomenon that occurs at college where the whole world magically shrinks to the boundaries of campus. Life consists only of the three buildings you have class in, your dorm or apartment, and the dining hall. Even though we’re paradoxically here to expand our minds and learn of the world, our daily lives are self-centered within this tiny bubble.

Some people love this. They find it an “escape from the real world”, a false roadblock to adulthood, because we are told that as students, we only need to care about our studies. But for others, this atmosphere can be suffocating. For those of us who are itching to use our majors, or to travel, or who are socially conscious, who dream of bigger fights and wider horizons, sometimes it’s hard to rationalize why we are here.

Sometimes college can feel purposeless. We muddle through bad classes, bad professors, and get stuck in the bureaucracy of it all. We sit here waiting, building our own human capital and employment opportunity for a purposeful job that seems decades away. I’m not saying that a college degree is useless because let me stress it is absolutely necessary and crucial right now for any career that wants to make systemic change, especially right now. It’s not that college isn’t great- to meet friends, learn from brilliant minds, find inspiration and direction. It’s not that I’m not completely grateful to be here.

It’s just that I struggle with feeling like there’s so much more in this great wide world that I could be doing to help and not live such a self-centric existence. I know that this futility hits others especially hard too on this small, small campus.

     So here’s some ideas and steps I’ve taken to alleviate this problem and to be an actual contributing member of society, yay!

1. Reach out

I love working with kids. I love doing it even when it means no pay and tons of work. It turns out that my college partners with the city of Beverly for after-school tutoring. Hardly anyone does it so when I emailed, I got assigned a group immediately. I can’t wait to go, and it only took some contacting to set up. If your college doesn’t have what you love to do, take initiative and set it up!

2. There’s Always Time To Do What You Love

This goes along with the same principle of trying to study when you’re tired; you’re going to get nothing done until you deal with the real problem. You could take on 20 credits and three jobs but it means nothing if you’re not finding any joy or meaning in it. Find your one passion and make it work. Honestly, everyone stresses out with scheduling on campus; there is always time. Seriously, let me stress it again, there’s always time for what you love. 

2. Discover what’s beyond your campus

Even if you’re from the area, there’s always new things to discover. I’ve loved getting to be a tourist here. It makes anything within an hour’s distance like an adventure! Who knows what you can discover beyond your campus?

3. Get creative with others who feel similarly

I recently had an interview an NGO started years ago by HIGH SCHOOLERS. They wanted to do more for the world and now they run women’s shelters, health services, and educational programs in multiple countries like Haiti, Belize, and Peru. It just takes passion and dedication to do however much you feel like you can. Another example is one of the girls I taught alongside in Haiti organized a mission trip for students at her college.

4. And the most boring but practical….Dedicate yourself to your studies

I hate macroeconomics. I hate it with a fire of a thousand suns. But I know that this is what will help me achieve my major requirements which gets me my degree which gets me a job. Who knows, maybe even an international job. To get to do something awesome, like working with an international business, or doing cultural mediation, I have to muddle through macroeconomics. And it’s easier to do when I can apply a little bit of passion to it. See?

I hope this helps and that you feel like you can actually generally contribute to the world even as a student! Get to it, ya crazy go-getters!

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