How long have you been in school for now? A couple of weeks, a few classes in, or a couple of years in? No matter how long you’ve been in a particular program of study there will be times where you doubt what you’re doing. I like to call this doubt a student identity crisis. You may be unsure of whether you fit into the program, if it’s really the degree you want, or if it will get you into the career field you had your sights set on. Instead of reverting to an “undecided” status, attempt to solve your own questions and to alleviate your own doubts. There are a few ways of doing this, and in some cases it does help to be engaged and proactive.
Self-doubt is a killer when it comes to student ego. We all like to believe we’re brilliant in our discussion forum posts, and that our professor is just chomping at the bit to read our next paper. When you get a less than stellar response that ego is quickly deflated and replaced with rejection, doubt, and possibly loss. Doubting yourself isn’t healthy, and it will void your concentration. If everything leading up to that point has been “A” quality material, but this last grade was far below those expectations it doesn’t mean you should look outside of your program. It’s true there may be signs for some when a program may not be a good fit. Constantly failing exams and assignments could be an indication that you’re not cut out for that field of interest, or it can mean that you’re not well equipped. Line up your advisor, your professors, as well as your own ego if you want to really give this program “the old college try.”
View some rejections as a positive.
A number of New York Times best selling authors save their rejection letters from manuscript and novel submissions. To them this is motivation and a show of effort, not defeat. How many underdog stories have you heard where that person was rejected X amount of times for a lack of appeal or potential? The reason they are so successful now is because they kept pushing to see what would work. Not everyone is an overnight success, and education isn’t meant to be easy. It’s a challenge so that you can see your true potential, and through this struggle it triggers a response with employers as well. They can see from the skills you obtained in school whether you can handle a certain amount of work, or if you’re qualified to handle a number of high volume or intellectually challenging tasks.
Also don’t forget to consult with that professor, or get together with a few classmates online. Request more feedback about your performance, and with peers look for support or help with tutoring.
Consult with your advisor.
In most schools advisors are segmented by degree program. At American Public University each school has it’s own set of advisors dedicated to helping that particular group of students. So when you have questions about your program, or concerns about your growth in it they’ll be able to help you specifically. You won’t be getting vague responses, and the training is there to help coach you through the difficult aspects of your courses. Make sure you have an agenda if you really are in crisis with school. If life is getting in the way then let them know, but don’t let that stop you from pursuing your educational passion.
See if your education plan lines up with your five year plan.
When you were younger your career aspirations were very ambitious; President, ballerina, astronaut, etc. There’s no doubt your feelings have changed since then. Once you’re done with high school you typically have a better idea of what you want to do with your career. Take those ideas and put them into a five year plan, or if you’re very ambitious build out a 10 year plan. Some careers involve additional schooling like a master’s or doctorate. Make sure to factor those items into the equation. Again, school will be time consuming and stressful at times, but if it gets you to your end goal then isn’t it worth it? If your current education plan does not align with your career sights then it may be time to move along, or you can look for ways to supplement skills needed into what you’re currently doing.
Don’t lose heart just yet. There is typically always a light at the other end of the tunnel. So before you burrow out from under your books for class make sure to do an assessment on where you are now and where you want to be. You’re probably in the right spot, but maybe you need an adjustment.
By J. Mason
Online Learning Tips Editor