College is the best time of your life. When else are your parents going to spend several thousand dollars a year just for you to go to a strange town and get drunk every night?
David Wood, Actor and Writer
Like many other dewy-eyed teenagers, I feel deep for the romantized concept of higher education. But not the 2009 Asher Roth “I Love College” narrative rather the 1990s A Different World depiction. Growing up between the ghettos of Newark and suburbs of Hillside, I believed receiving a college degree would be like winning Willy Wonka’s golden ticket. While I knew college would be challenging, I could not have possibly fathomed just how difficult it would be.
As you can probably tell by now, as a non-traditional student (full-time commuter while also working full-time) my pursuit of higher education was rather tumultuous on both the undergraduate and graduate level from failing courses, mourning family deaths, medicial difficulties and financial burdens to name a few. Beginning at my journey at historically black university, Virginia State in 2010 ending at Rutgers University – New Brunswick in 2017, I would have never in my wildest dreams imagined that I would become an adjunct professor.
In November 2017, months following my completion of Rutgers’ Masters of Communication and Media (MCM) program, I accepted my first teaching contract. As a alumna of the Digital Communication, Information and Media (DCIM) minor program to return as an adjunct was full circle. I was by no means the perfect student! I didn’t have a perfect GPA. I didn’t socialize on campus much. So what made me any different from the tens of thousands of students at the University? Filled with curiosity, I reached out to a few of my former professors and academic advisors to invesitage what makes students standout and how to ace your college experience.
Traditional workplaces are quickly becoming obselete. The 40-hour work week is sadly dissolving as the always-on culture gains popularity. So, have an understanding of what type of career you’d like. Different industries allow for more unique circumstances. Do you like to travel? Are you an independent worker? Look into remote opportunities.
Explore all possible job options within your desired industry. Entering college I dreamed of becoming an on-air VJ for a music countdown show. Partly because I love music but mainly because it seemed fun. Outside of being the “talent”, I had no knowledge of any other careers with the entertainment industry. College is a fresh dose of reality. You can’t choose a life-long job because it “seems fun”. During my undergraduate career, I joined as many clubs in journalism as I could to get a taste of what careers were avaiable. Radio broadcaster, blogger, social media manager, editor, etc. Using that information I was select the elective courses that would best be the most beneficial.
New industries pop-up each and every day! As an undergraduate, studying social media was deemed risky. As a graduate student, researching social media infleunce and how it affects digital music sells was deemed risky. But I did both! Merge your passion with your potential profession. Lead the curve! College is your time to test the waters gaining a solid footing before entering the workforce whether it be for others or yourself. Don’t be afraid to walk the tight line of industry innovation and that’s how I went from pupil to professor.
I hope this article helps you navigate your academic pursuits. Whether you attend a small college or a large university, there are always ways to standout. Have you graduated from an institute of higher education? I’d love to hear about your experience. Let’s chat in the comments.
Disclaimer: This is my personal blog. Any views or opinions represented in this post are personal and belong solely to me as the blog owner and do not represent Rutgers University in any capacity, unless explicitly stated.