#Ask - The Daily Q&A Life

What advice would you give to somebody who is scared to go to college?

I was scared and made the mistake of waiting to attend college. I didn’t go to college as a traditional student after high school. In fact, I enrolled about 11 years after high school graduation.

I thought I was a terrible student in high school. I only found out later in life that it was the public school system—its inflexible criteria, repetitive material, and one-size-fits-all structure—that killed my confidence and excitement to learn.

When I was younger, my mother would talk to her friends about getting ready for “back to school.” I remember this vividly because, whenever this topic came up, her friends remarked how weird I was for actually being excited to go to school. I liked to learn, but somewhere along the line in grade school, I turned into a bad student. I lost my confidence, and I wasn’t happy.

After graduating high school, I just said, “I’m going to do things differently. I’ll have to make it another way because I am just not cut out for college.”

Fast forward to me responding to you now, and, yes, I did end up going to college. However, it wasn’t the monumental effort I had built it up to be.

There is nothing scary about college. It may be ridiculous and not worth the financial commitment, but that is for another post.

Still afraid to take the plunge? Do what I did, and test it out.

Don’t apply for a college and risk getting rejected (maybe that is why you are scared?) Instead, find your local community college and take a summer course: just one course in an area that you like and could feel comfortable with.

That’s how I got my start in college. A college had just opened a new location near where I was living. I wandered onto a new campus one day just to look around. Suddenly, it was 60-minutes later, I had $500 less in my bank account, and I was enrolled in an American History class that started the next Monday.

I was terrified. I thought, what the heck did I just do? What a waste of money. My spontaneous self just made a stupid decision.

But wait! As it turned out, that summer course, the one I signed up for on a whim, might have been the best decision that I have ever made.

In my profession life, I am extremely confident and very optimistic, but, prior to taking that class, I thought I sucked at everything related to education. My first class in college was actually pleasant. The class was small, and I connected with the professor. In fact, after that first class, I talked to the professor about my hesitation and why I was scared to give college a chance after all these years. He was interested in my journey and understood the mountain that I was attempting to climb.

It turns out that I just needed someone to understand where I was coming from. It was that professor of my first college course who gave me the confidence to believe in myself academically, and I realized it was a lack of confidence in my academic ability, fortified by my earlier school experiences, that held me back. I learned that I could make my educational experience what I wanted it to be. I didn’t have to follow the set path.

It isn’t like high school. In college, you get to pick your classes and do something you enjoy. If you don’t like a class, don’t take it. If they don’t offer a course this semester, wait until the next time it’s available. If you take classes just to fulfill requirements and get the credits, you will be miserable, scared, and intimidated, and this decision could keep you from exploring those areas where you truly excel and should be doubling down on your ability.

Exactly 2 years and 9 months from when I signed up for that first college course, I graduated from a well-known university with a bachelor’s degree.

My point is, you shouldn’t be scared of anything. Just do it. Stop thinking and just make a move. Take this lesson, and apply it to your life in general. Don’t take on something you aren’t passionate about. If something doesn’t line up the way you envision it, just don’t do it.

And if you decide to take on anything in your life that scares the heck out you, remember this response and reach out to me during your journey, or even at the start of it.

I’ll be in your corner.

Thanks for asking. I hope that this has provided you some value.

Do you have a question? I’ve got some answers. Submit your question it to Ask@MikeSpeer.com or Tweet it to me @MpSpeer

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