Each and every one of us will walk a different path down the road of life, and yet students are expected to follow a systematized process known as the education system. Just doing well in school these days is not enough to carry students on to the next step, it takes something extra within. These days, we are seeing students struggling to get through the school system effectively; only 30 percent of students attending a four-year, public university graduate within the expected four-year path. These days it is taking students five, six, even seven years to get a Bachelor’s degree and I’ve discovered the reason why. It’s an ancient truth that can be observed on any campus, in any classroom, at any workplace.
Within every student is a passion, a purpose, and interests that can turn even the oldest person into a child again. The problem is that there is little being done to help students discover their dormant passions, and truly engage in them. Information is passed onto students without application, without the “why” behind “what” is being taught.
This leads to our first key of getting the most out of college: picking the right major to pursue a student’s passion and ambitions. I have a friend who, avoiding the major that truly interested him, switched majors every year! First it was electrical engineering (that didn’t work), then pharmacy (that didn’t work), then finance (that didn’t work either). Finally, taking time to really consider what he wanted to pursue as a career, he took up aviation. Now he can’t share enough about the fun he has, his dreams of being a commercial pilot, about flying to Eloy, Yuma, Tucson, etc. He’ll be graduating within six years, but imagine if he started off by studying aviation. Students truly go through a transformation when they study a major that aligns with their passion and interests.
Take one step further down this rabbit hole and you find the other reason students aren’t graduating undergrad in four years: They transfer universities.
I have a friend of mine from Washington; he went to Washington State for two years before transferring to the University of Arizona. When he made the transfer, not all his credits carried over so he was essentially starting over and paying out of state tuition as well. When he graduates, he will have taken six years of school unnecessarily.
This is a bright and hard-working student who I’m honored to know and call a friend. Nobody took the time though to see which school would best suit his studies and learning style, as well as who he is as a person. Certain university environments work better than others for a student, and it is a real shame to have to cover lost ground.
Seventh grade is a great time to start exploring and to hone in on what a student is passionate about doing. Some may argue that, “They’re too young to know what they want to do.”
I wouldn’t disagree with that, but at a young age students should start thinking about what they like and don’t like, and what careers excite them. I’m very proud to be currently working with students who already have a grasp on what they love and goals to accomplish.
One student wants to research dolphins that beach themselves as pods, to understand why it happens and what it says about their emotional connections and communications.
The experiences, the focus and initiative they gain, and the excitement they’ll learn with by pursuing what they like presently greatly aids in the educational process (my own brother went from being a B/C student in high school to making the Dean’s List at ASU).
At younger ages, they’re more open to share their true passions, their intrinsic passions, ones not fabricated to fit the social demands of school and relatives. I used to collect and catalog bugs and dreamed of being an entomologist (insect scientist), but other classmates weren’t real fans of my six-legged passion. I saw very little chance of me getting a date to prom the rate I was going.
Even though my parents tried to show support, I could tell they and my other relatives were trying to get me into other activities. Today, to be totally honest, knowing the role insects play in society and scientific innovation, I would have been happy to have pursued my childhood passions. And so should every student.
Each passion and interest has a role in society, and by starting to pursue it today, students can take heart in being one step closer to a suitable college program and the career of their dreams.
• Ahwatukee resident Armani Del Franco, a graduate of the University of Arizona, is owner of Silverback College Planning LLC. Reach him at (602) 930-8060 or firstname.lastname@example.org.