College (n): where you learn about your favorite thing

“Hey Tripp, I think I’m going to change my name to Tripp.”
“You’re too old to change your name because you’re in college”
“Do you even know what college is?”
“Yes. It’s where you get to pick your favorite thing and learn about it.”

This five-year-old’s definition of college is genius. Every dictionary should feature this simple, yet unbelievably true description of what college is. College is the opportunity to spend four years learning everything possible about “your favorite thing” in life. In other words, it’s the chance to explore your greatest passion. Your one true love.

We all think of college as an outlet to a job; a stepping stone to our future careers. We take economics and chemistry knowing that we will be future financial analysts and engineers. We pick a path that involves money. We have been trained to think of our careers the moment we step into college. But what about our passions? What if we hate chemistry? What if we despise numbers?

Here’s the thing. College is an outlet to a job. It’s the last step in our long careers of learning. But after college, the learning doesn’t end. We spend the rest of our lives learning about whichever path we take. So why can’t college be where we learn about our favorite things? Why can’t our future careers replicate our passions?

I’m young. Only 19. But to me, it seems that college should be just that. A place in which we explore our passions and prepare for a beautiful, fulfilling life. I can guarantee you that no amount of money can make up for one’s hatred of numbers. No high-paying job can fill that empty void in your heart. But passion can.

I recently met a theatre major who now manages a hotel – she uses the skills she learned in school to please people each day. The hotel is her stage and the guests are her audience. She must act in order to please. When I considered the ease at which she runs the place, I realized that she truly does love her job. She found a way to turn her passion for acting into a successful career.

Today, all Vanderbilt students received an email reminding them that enrollment for the fall semester classes reopens tomorrow. Although we’ve already picked our schedules, most students will end up switching a few classes around. Before you finalize your schedule, be sure to confirm that you’re excited about the upcoming semester. College isn’t high school. You don’t have to suffer through the classes that you hate. Choose the ones you love.

Just don’t get too carried away (you still need to get a degree…)



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