10 Things I Wanna Say To A Black Scholar
1. Choose the Degree Before the Institution
It’s perfectly fine to have a dream school, but if that dream school doesn’t produce a dream job, you may find out what happens to a dream deferred. There are several “prestigious” schools whose alumni lists are wrought with students that went off to be underemployed or worse. Set your sights high, but do so with a sound mind. It’s tough to classify certain degrees as better than others, but trust the data on this one…just do your research on projected career paths.
2. College is a Marathon, Not a Sprint
Spoiler alert: There is a STRONG chance you won’t graduate in 4 years….and there is nothing wrong with that. Once you pick a career that you can assure will position you for success, it can help relieve the stress of being in such a rush to graduate. We often get conditioned to believe that college is supposed to take 4 years, thus discouraging 5/6/7 year graduates and oftentimes the entire concept of grad school as well. In today’s world, very few 4 year degrees will get you exactly where you want to be anyway so prepare for the long haul.
3. Change is Inevitable, Learn to Embrace It
Majors change, friends change, not so significant others change. It can be tough to adapt to a daily routine that includes something or someone, just to have it all change so suddenly. However, learning to roll with the punches is a MAJOR key in succeeding in college. Regardless of how big the change is, one thing that is highly unlikely to change are due dates. Don’t let unexpected changes allow you to lose sight of your vision.
4. Have a Vision
This is much easier for some than others, but having a vision keeps you going when everything around you has failed you. Having a vision reminds you of exactly what you’re fighting for and what may be at stake if you don’t follow through. It can be something as simple as making a better life for yourself or making your family proud, just make sure whatever it is actually means something to you. It doesn’t have to be an elaborate 10 year plan, but remember….it’s much easier to change plans than it is to create one from scratch.
Success in college is 10% raw intelligence, and 90% the decisions you make using that intelligence. People naturally have a habit of linking success to sheer intelligence, but college will quickly expose the latent difference between the two. The most important thing to know regarding decisions is that NOBODY else will ever be held responsible for your bad decisions, so be careful who/what you let influence you.
6. Choose Friends Wisely
One of the most important things you can do in college(and life) is make good friends. Friends that not only share your interests but your vision as well. College is a tough world, and not something many of us can withstand alone. If your friends know and support your vision, they can reinforce it.
7. Remember Why You’re Here
This one may sound the most obvious, but do not overlook this simple affirmation. I’ve heard several stories of people who went to college primarily to pledge, find a husband/wife, etc. Don’t underestimate these occurrences as they are pretty important to many people, however there are millions of eligible bachelor/bachelorettes and thousands of grad chapters outside of your respective institution….but there aren’t too many places outside of college where you can get a degree. Prioritize accordingly.
8. The Bigger Picture
We live in a world that offers many different unconventional routes to success so it is very important to realize that not all paths will even require a 4 year degree. However, regardless of the route you decide to take, it won’t hurt to have a degree to fall back on. So before you sell your soul for those hoop dreams, remember….even if you were Top 10 in the state the year that you graduated, that puts you somewhere between 1 and 500 in the nation, not including the 200 other countries that people overseas come from. Not to mention only 60 people even get drafted. Make sure you understand these metrics before you choose this route. Side note: No, we don’t want your mixtape either….same logic.
9. Always Stay at Least 2 Steps Ahead
The same level of preparation used to be best equipped for college should continue to be applied throughout college. Be VERY aware of not only what your program offers but also what your next step in life requires. If you would like to go to med/law/grad school, senior year is NOT the time to start doing research to see if you qualify. It works the exact same way with internships. Internships are HIGHLY preferred so do not take this advice lightly. The qualifications rarely change, so there’s no reason not to be aware of this. If you have no idea what you’re even aiming for then it makes it that much more difficult to actually achieve a goal.
10. Do the Right Thing
In the event that you are fortunate enough to experience the cultural diversity of a predominately white institution, please do not forget the cultural responsibility of looking out for both those that you identify with AND those that you don’t…specifically within the same major. Many underrepresented students enter school as first generation college students and quite honestly may not have a long list of people to count on or refer to for advice on careers, financial aid, calculus, dating, etc. In addition, retention rates for minorities are significantly lower than that of our counterparts. Simply put, “We all we got”.