A couple days ago, my friend who recently graduated from high school Facebooked (yes, I just used ‘Facebook’ as a verb) me and asked what to expect from college. She was anxious and wanted to get as much advice before college to make the most of her college experience. Mind you, I am a rising junior who just came out of his sophomore slump, and I realized that if she had asked me the same question at the end of my freshmen year, my answer would have been completely different. The number one concept I wanted my friend to know is that she is now escaping ‘tunnel vision’ temporarily.

Running from ‘tunnel vision’

While this term can be interpreted in many different ways, when I say ‘tunnel vision,’ I mean the one-track mindset or path that people think they must take. For example, you must go to elementary school to go to middle school, and then middle school to go to high school, and then high school to go to college. The mindset, at least the one I had, was that your goal in high school is to get into college and that was the sole goal you needed to achieve. However, once you have achieved your goal of getting into college, the question becomes, now what?

You will ask yourself “now what?” a lot during your college years and beyond. While some of your friends might be gung-ho about going to medical school, law school, or getting a job straight out of college, most of us will be figuring it out through our college experiences. I told my friend, “You do realize you’re talking to a student at a liberal arts college, not a state university student or even a larger university student?”, so I came to my school to figure out what I really wanted to study and pursue. If I had a dollar for every time I have changed my major, career, and education path, I would probably be able to pay off half of my college tuition.

As cliché as it sounds, college is a time to explore your options and seek out different opportunities. There is no preset goal for you to achieve like in high school, and you will have to set objectives for yourself. After each year in college, your goals will change and you will seek different opportunities. While this might be scary from the structure most students had in high school, it should be embraced and taken as your first step towards making your own decisions for your life.

Now, this isn’t to say that you won’t run into other “tunnel-esque” situations later in life. Heck, some of your friends might still have tunnel vision because undergraduate is just a stepping stone to a bigger goal they want to achieve. But what I guess I tried to pass down to my friend is this: college is truly a time to explore your options and in the best way you can. Take advantage of that; take risks. Most of all, begin to tackle the question, “Now what?”

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