My Dad often tells me I need to “put myself in a position to succeed.” It remains one of his favorite sayings. But I always wondered precisely what he meant by “succeed.” I figured it depended on context, because largely, there could be lots of different positions to succeed.
Success is complicated and personal.
What success means to one person might mean failure for another.
Before I define my personal view of success, I’ll narrow the scope. Success at large is not quite the same thing as success in college. My vision of a successful life involves home ownership, a wife and a dog. Since my university doesn’t allow pets in dorms, not of these things are going to be written in my college success story.
My first facet of success is academic success. It’s kind of an obvious pick. College is pretty expensive and the ostensive goal of college is to learn and get good grades. To not get good grades would seem like a waste of money to me. But there are lots of reasons I strive for academic success. A high GPA looks good on a resume, and I need a good resume to get a good job. A good job leads to high pay and a nice house, or at least the lots of options for jobs and houses. So, solely based on that, good grades are an important part of collegiate success to me.
However, I still find more reason behind academic achievement. I believe academic excellence is a factor in my college success simply because I am supposed to have good grades. Universities are a place of higher education, and my academic success is a measure of how receptive I am to that education.
If I wasn’t in school, I’d be looking for a job, so for all intense and purpose, my “job” is to be a student. I believe there is a moral obligation to do my job to the best of my abilities. In short, my general purpose of being enrolled in a university is to pursue academics, and I believe it is virtuous to excel in one’s purpose. So, I measure my success in academics.
But I’m not an academic robot. I’m also very against staying in all day everyday with my nose buried between book covers. A purely academic view of collegiate success would be wholly incomplete.
I also consider social factors in my definition of success. A month where I stayed in my dorm every weekend would feel like a huge failure of a month. Social success means putting myself out there, hanging out with friends, making efforts to connect with new people and trying new things.
One weekend could consist of a party with all my close friends on Friday night, and then breakfast the next morning with some newer acquaintances. The next weekend might be an adventure into the city to see a new play or go zip lining. The point: I need balance.
The third factor of my success, and maybe the most daunting one, is planning for my future. If I graduate and am suddenly shocked to find I have no idea where I’m going, I’d have to say that was a failure on my part. It can be hard to know how to plan for the future, or even what you may want the future to look like.
I try to do thing that will give me as many options as possible for the future, like building a strong resume. During my freshman year, I went into my university’s career center. I scheduled an appointment to talk to someone about my resume. A kind senior asked me to show him what I had so far. And so far, I had nothing. I literally didn’t have any kind of resume. The senior chuckled a bit, and then we got to work building my first resume.
Another thing I strive for is finding practical experience. I’ve applied for several internships and contacted many different companies looking for experience. You learn a lot even when you don’t land that dream internship.
I applied for a spring internship position at a local new station. Unfortunately, all the spring positions had already been filled up. When I heard the news, I did my best to graciously thank the internship manager and retain a professional composure despite my disappointment. I was met with an offer to apply for an intern position in the coming summer or fall. Sadly, I replied that my schedule would not allow me to work at those times. The intern manager said that I should keep in contact and that potions would be open next spring.
Although it may seem like this experience was a failure, I count it as a major success. The experience of simply applying and corresponding professionally is invaluable. Perhaps it will even lead to a future internship. To me, anything that may benefit me in the future counts towards my collegiate success.
These are just my definitions. Yours may be different, but success is multifaceted. Put thought into how you define success. You can’t achieve what you can’t define.