By Megan McNaughton
Three years ago, around this time of my second semester of college, I made a decision that would completely change the course of my life. Only a few weeks ago, had I come across a friend facing the same decision. As she entered her second semester of college, she told me “I’m not sure that I want to finish my college career.”
In the spring of 2017, I decided that my second semester at Cal State Fullerton would be my last. The original excitement of college had been dulled by many unexpected experiences — from having a bad roommate, to not feeling stimulated by my education, and so much more — college was definitely not what I hoped it would be.
The decision to leave school came with many complications and questions. What was I going to do instead? Was college just not for me? Was being the first person in my family to attend a four year college adding more pressure? Was all my hard work up until this point for nothing? Am I more afraid of disappointing myself or my family?
I gave myself a deadline: I would take the summer to sit in my decision before figuring out what my next move was. I also could enjoy this time and use it to discover my passions. After this much needed break, I ultimately decided to finish pursuing my education, but this time I would do it my way. The following winter session, I enrolled in community college, worked towards an associates degree, then transferred back to a university where I felt like I belonged.
Wondering if college is right for you is, luckily, not an uncommon experience. Nevertheless, the thought itself is a scary one. From my own experience, I offer the following advice to anyone asking themselves that question:
✰ The decision is yours, and only yours.
It can be easy to want to listen and give in to the pressure of those you love. Getting advice from loved ones can be helpful in making your decision, however, the decision is ultimately yours. Don’t be afraid to do what makes you happiest.
✰ Taking a break is okay.
It’s hard to judge any situation when you’re in the midst of it, sometimes stepping outside of it is the best, and only, way to truly evaluate it. Whether it be a week, a summer break or a semester, it’s okay to take the time necessary to figure out what you want and need — you can always go back with a better mindset.
✰ Pursue what you love.
Whatever your decision, make sure you’re pursuing what you love. If you love education, pursue that; if you love art, pursue that. Aligning yourself with what you love can only make a positive impact; even changing your coursework, major or university can change your entire college experience.
✰ In the words of my favorite poet, Sarah Kay, “No matter how many land mines erupt in a minute, be sure your mind lands on the beauty of this funny place called life.”
Of course it’s easy to look at all the negative reasons why you think college may not be right for you, but making a list of the positives can be incredibly helpful in making your decision. And no matter what that decision may be, focus on the positive effects that it will have rather than the negative.