Five years ago, on August 23, 2004 I began my undergraduate academic career. At the time I was planning an academic adventure that would last at most 4 years, but was suspected to be closer to 3 years. I had credits ready to go and was almost a sophomore, and I had not been to a university before. At the time 120 credit hours seemed like a lot, like it would take forever to earn. Here I am, a senior, so far from where I began. I have been a senior for quite some time now, over a year actually, but without an appropriate plan, being a senior does not mean anything. Today, it means something. I consider myself to be a terminal senior this year, as I will progress beyond the confines of an undergraduate education. In a lot of ways, I am just as scared as I was 5 years ago, maybe more so, since a lot of the variables of the situation have changed. Things seemed certain back then. I knew what I wanted to do, or at least, I thought I did, I wanted to be involved in computer science and programming and all that is technical. With meeting of people, taking a variety of classes and ultimately deciding that technology is cold and unemotional, I have set out on a new course, one which is more compatible with my goals. I suppose with the way I leaned toward social sciences more than tech courses for things, I should have known that there was more to me than computer science could ever cover. These five years have been an interesting journey that I believe has allowed me to better understand myself than taking the “express route” to a degree ever would have. By allowing myself to explore the arts and begin to develop new interests I have moved far beyond the person I was in high school. I feel as though my eventual career will not be directly related to my degree, but that my degree will determine my success in my career. At this point in a person’s academic career, it is expected that the person be ecstatic about reaching the natural conclusion to such an academic career. I do not have that feeling. I am excited, but at the same time, I am saddened that the predetermined path (the degree outline, or curriculum) is ending and as a result, my ability for free exploration of the academic realm is also ending. It has been quite a surprise to me how much I have learned about myself through this experience, things I would have not otherwise known.
Today I begin the penultimate semester of my undergraduate career with this schedule:
What comes after I have completed this academic year I have no clue. I do feel as though I am ready to move beyond academics, but at the same time, not completely abandon it. I want to go to graduate school to obtain a higher degree in psychology, but I would also like to explore a 2nd degree option for obtaining a BFA and obtaining a degree which explores my other major interest (photography). I do not foresee a need to close this blog, or even to supplement it at the conclusion of the year, but then again, that is 9 months away.
In the past five years I have matured a lot intellectually as well as emotionally. Most importantly, I have learned that there is not some pre-defined plan that everyone must follow in order to have a happy and successful life. I have learned that everything is different for everyone. My “scenic route” to a degree is not necessarily a bad thing, it is just different from the way most people would choose to work at a degree. I never really built many interests as a kid, and my academic pursuits have allowed me cover some missed ground and become more able to know myself. Although, it was a very tiring and frustrating thing to attempt to reinvent myself every time I found a new interest. I had not known before that a person can have many interests and pursue them all without necessarily having to lose any of the previous interests to make room for it.
Its hard to say what I might discover about myself in these next 16 credit hours, or what impact it may have on my life, but I am prepared for whatever happens.