College: a Fresh Start From Troubled Beginnings

Aaron Petersen, Contributing Writer

How many people have begged for a way to start over for a multitude of reasons throughout our short life spans? Often, they are hard to come by and are few and far between. It is a chance to get away from previous chaos or conflict in the past. These are the many reasons a good community can be vital to one’s future endeavors. My personal experience with my own post-secondary institution is one I look back on with fond memories and significant steps towards my current self. Most public education misses the mark dramatically on this concept, and it’s why the community within a college campus far exceeds its students’ expectations. Muskegon Community College truly changed the way I felt about education as a whole and how I can pursue my passion without fear of criticism or judgment, and I can happily say that I couldn’t be more excited about the direction I’m currently taking.

High school graduation is something that can be looked at as a highway entrance or exit. The latter being that your past experiences, hardships, and interests can be left behind in search of what the former has in store for you. The entrance can be looked at as a new city, school, community, job, and so on. It is a chance to create opportunities, meet new people, and thrive in an environment that is more devoted to helping you succeed. My personal experience when I went off to college after I graduated was one filled with anxious thoughts and uncertainty, thinking my tormented former social life would follow. My life throughout school up to that point had been one of rejection by my classmates, former community, and overall dismissal by any of my past relationships. I truly believed it would carry the same social environment and practices as a public school, but thankfully, I was wrong. College allowed me to get to know people who were devoid of a social filter. It allows diversity to flourish while allowing others to see an individual’s true colors without any restraint for their own personality. The relationships I have built throughout my time in college, professionally or socially, have helped me develop the mindset needed to achieve my goals.

My motives to pursue college were, admittedly, initially skewed. The original goal for me in my first semester was to find a field that was exceptional in terms of payout for the correlating career path. By the time I had finished my first semester, I realized my program wasn’t in line with what I found to be enjoyable as a career, so I switched paths the following term. I took a semester to remember what I was truly passionate about, and it hit me. The next fall, I took classes that correlated with my new path, and it was the most fun I had experienced in my time at MCC. It set me up with an entry-level job for the college that would ultimately make my name known within the industry. The biggest factor amidst all of this was the college’s willingness to be patient with what I wanted, and I firmly believe every college has this same amount of patience if you are willing to put forth the effort. My whole college career up to this point has ultimately been my search for what motivates me to keep going, and the answer to that million-dollar question is your will to better yourself as a professional and as an individual. Your urge to change the course of your future will be what separates you from others within a crowd.

Institutions as a whole should be built on the foundation that they are catered to helping you search for your best self. That is the biggest problem with high school education currently, and it is why many individuals, like me, graduate without knowing what’s next or how to reach their goals. College thrives on this concept and reminds students what it means to feel like they matter in the community and how they can contribute to it. It is why I remain so loyal to MCC, and why it is such a significant part of my life as a whole. I am of the belief that people should be able to begin pursuing their own interests or at least searching for their career path, at a far earlier stage than what most individuals do now. It is of the utmost importance that when a student goes on to fully pursue a career that they know if they know fully what they are getting into. The idea of being able to explore and discover your passion is far more important than many make it out to be, and it’s why many people fail to understand its significance in future generations’ endeavors.

Community is somewhat of an anomaly. With the right kind, one can look to the future without a doubt, and on the way, create long-lasting relationships that will make an enormous impact later on. This concept can be applied precisely with the itinerary of post-secondary education as a whole. Many people can often use it as a way to reset, an opportunity that is often scarce. The definition of a reset can apply to starting a new career, meeting new people, or beginning a journey towards a bright future. Motivation, from my own experience, is composed of one’s drive and willpower to become better and achieve their goals, but only when those goals are tempered by pursuing a career you are passionate about. It took me a significant amount of soul-searching to figure out why I was going to college my first year, but I realize now what is most important. College, in theory, is catered to allowing you, as an individual, to thrive at whatever pace you want, with whomever (without judgment), and however, you feel is the best-determined way to do so. My path was one of multiple shifts of direction, and that’s okay, but that’s simply my story. Are you prepared to pave your own path?