The road to graduation has been a rollercoaster. When I began the ride, I thought I would be graduating four years later in Spring 2020. Little did I know that my path through college would not be the straight line I imagined. That has been my biggest lesson in college; life is not going to go exactly the way you want it to. If all our desires were granted, we would have quite a few more billionaires walking around.
I had to learn how to change my outlook on being successful and motivated, by failing. But now, as I sit here writing this post and reflecting on my past 5 years of school, I can share my lessons learned before I leave UNCW.
First and foremost, learn how to get yourself organized. I used to never plan out anything in regard to my classes but, I learned the hard way, personal organization is a key to success. Buy yourself a planner or a big desk calendar. Sit down for 5 minutes on Sunday night, before the week starts, and plan out the assignment due dates for your classes. I promise you, it will make a world of difference! Having a planner means you won’t be stressed about remembering due dates. You have a source you can refer to anytime you’re wondering when an assignment is due. Simple, effective, and CHEAP!
Roll with the Punches
I made some early mistakes and was academically dismissed from UNCW. I’m sure you’ve heard it before, but college is going to throw a lot at you. Now this doesn’t mean you will instantly be forced into crazy life changes and decisions, but 4 years is a long time and those moments do come and come at you fast – trust me. In my first year in Wilmington, I did not have a solid direction to follow. I put more attention toward my social life than my course and those choices resulted in my dismissal from UNCW. I spent the following year attending Cape Fear Community College and was forced to take a long look at myself and the choices I had made. Assigning blame to outside influences is easy but being introspective and realizing that YOU are the root of the problem is extremely hard. I had to figure out what I needed to cut from my life and what I needed to work on to return to UNCW. That year at Cape Fear CC taught me more than my combined four years at UNCW. I started managing my time effectively and focusing all my attention on my grades. The hardest part of that process was holding on to my motivation to return to UNCW. I was still having hard moments and dealing with feelings of failure that made me want to just give up. Learning to push past those moments and reassure myself that I was doing the right thing made me a stronger person. Learn to not let the low moments get the better of you.
Find Your People (Major)
As cliche as this sounds, find the major you enjoy. In my first year at UNCW, I was initially a finance major but quickly realized it was not the path I wanted to take. After being readmitted, I considered going back to Cameron and majoring in marketing, but my advisor suggested an alternate path. Instead, I could major in communication studies and take courses in integrated marketing communication. I wasn’t sure at first because I didn’t know much about COM Studies. I took COM 301 with Dr. Weber and that was the catalyst that sparked my love for communication studies. The sense of community that was cultivated in his class, and each of my classes afterward, was a breath of fresh air. The faculty in the COM department have been incredibly supportive of me and I never felt as if they did not want me to succeed. Being a member of the COM Studies department allowed me to finish my education surrounded by brilliant professors who all work to prepare their students for success after college. So my advice, go out and experiment with your classes. Your first choice may not be your final choice. The college experience is 10x better when you find a major that interests you.
Liam Abourezk is a May 2021 graduate and believes “failure is the stepping stone for success.”