Motivation, Failure, and College

Motivation and failure. They can go hand in hand or they can be mortal enemies. It’s a love/hate relationship between them and I’m currently caught in the middle. Something I’ve considered a lot recently is the manner in which humans become motivated and how I can make myself motivated. At the University of Michigan I work alongside many intelligent students. We were all the high-achievers in high school and we were the kids that did everything and anything extracurricular whilst still mastering what we were learning in our classes. After being here for three years I’ve noticed that we’re all a lot of big fish in a big pond.

When we fail, it’s a terrible feeling. We’re not used to failing, we’re used to succeeding above everyone else. We’re the Leaders and Best right? Well, Michigan truly has a way of making high-achievers feel like they’ve hit rock bottom over and over again. I’ve hit many speedbumps on my journey to obtaining a degree, as I’m sure many other students have as well. I can’t help but thinking about the fact that college is something that is supposed to get us a good job and thus gets us a better life than we otherwise would have. So why do schools have to make the process so damn torturous? Does it make sense that the average for Calculus II courses are around 40%? Does it make sense that so many students, specifically LSA students, have a hard time translating the skills they learned in classes to something they can use in real life? Maybe it’s because colleges like the “find the opportunity in challenge” model to get their students a sufficient education and out the door to improve the employment statistics of the university. I agree with that model to a certain extent but I also believe that in order for someone to be motivated, they must be passionate. They must be passionate with the degree they’re pursuing and the future job prospects that they have from that degree.

From the standpoint of a student in LSA, I know it’s difficult for graduates to find jobs in todays economy because their majors simply aren’t practical. We all want jobs but without being motivated by practical skills that we¬†could be learning in classes, college is that much more conducive to failure. I’m not talking about failing out, I’m talking about failing in our personal endeavors and our happiness with the career paths we pursue. College is hard and working is hard. But college shouldn’t make working more difficult.

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