How College Can Turn Dreams Into Plans, Literally

The greatest thing about college is how much it allows you to find and fuel your passions. For at least four years, you can dive into the things you love and explore new subjects; there’s room for changing your dreams, rearranging your plans and really making college your own unique journey. Well, at least that’s what happened to me.

I entered college certain of myself- I was getting a degree in Journalism and I was going to write for a music publication, interviewing bands, reviewing albums and attending shows. Trust me, I’m still going to do that, it just looks like I’m taking a detour.

Midway through my degree  I started to try some marketing and PR types of courses for fun, mainly because I needed classes outside my major and figured it would provide some value to a Journalism degree. I quickly noticed I had a hidden interest in it that I had never tapped into. So, I just kept taking similar courses, simply because they ticked some required boxes and they weren’t miserable to go through.

Fast forward to senior year, fall semester, where I was faced with my dreaded Honors thesis: an added amount of work to my final semester that had “stress” written all over it. I had no clue what to even do my thesis on, and definitely didn’t have anything I was currently working on to inspire me. I talked to some advisors of mine, and heard about the Ellbogen 50K Entrepreneurship Competition that the College of Business holds every year; they allow students to pitch unique business ideas for a chance to win some money, and by some, I mean $20K.

I joked about how I could enter with a record label idea. I always said I was going to start one in the future to help all the unsigned bands that I believe in, just like The 1975 did, but it always felt like a pipe dream that was brought up in a series of “if only…” statements. I remember my Honors advisor lighting up saying, “YES! Do that! Pitch a label.” I laughed it off almost, but she told me I could use it as my thesis and I was sold.

I entered round 1, made it through after filling out a questionnaire and then thought, “okay, this is probably it, when it comes to the formal marketing pitch for round 2, I’m toast. No way I’m making it past this. I’m not an entrepreneur, how the hell could I even try to be?!” I gave my business pitch for round two the good old college try, and fall semester turned to spring. I pitched in February for round 2 and suddenly, I’m in the finals. All I did was enter a little dream, mess with the idea enough to make it worth pitching, and now I’m here, formulating my plan as well as I can to win a grant to help launch something I always saw as an “if I have time later” thing.

Come mid-April I will know if it’s meant to be or not, but until then, I’m still absorbing the shock I have over getting this far. It’s crazy to look at me freshman year and see someone with one plan for life and then leave as someone with something extremely different. I didn’t know I had a marketing and business passion, and I definitely didn’t see myself as a potential business owner. I still love Journalism and I still want that to be in my life plan, but sometimes, you have to let college take you to opportunities that you didn’t know existed until you try, like I alluded to at the beginning.

If at any point, the Ellbogen 50K intrigued you in this article and you will be on campus next fall, keep an eye out for the application and emails about it. All it takes to enter is a business idea you have and a quick application. If you’re selected, you can compete in a series of rounds to potentially end up with grant money to launch your business. It’s free to enter and a chance for you to cultivate your dream business ideas, like I am right now.