"Follow The Yellow Brick Road"
Congratulations! You’ve done the homework, compared schools, written essays, taken SATs received acceptances and returned intent forms. You’ve completed countless financial papers & applications. After all these considerations, you’ve made the best choice possible for yourself. Now it's about connecting with your roommate, picking up supplies, picking out linens at Bed Bath & Beyond and packing up the car.
When you think about transitioning to life in college, there are countless new things, ways, systems, people and ideas to adjust to in college that it’s really like a whole new life has been thrust upon you. Embarking upon this new life, you have an opportunity to hit the ground running and really embrace these changes. Take advantage of this unique position you are in to put everything you know about yourself together with your career and life goals to continue carving out who you are.
Here’s where I think it gets "Oz-some"! This upheaval is not unlike Dorothy’s experience in the "The Wizard of Oz". Dorothy was picked up and plopped down in Munchkinland, had to a make new friends, navigate obstacles, and make her way successfully to Emerald city all to help her achieve her ultimate goal of going home. As I thought a little more about this famous “fish out of water” tale, I realized that she and her friends and experiences along the way had a lot in common with the college experience, and could serve as a useful tool for making the most of collegiate life.
Dorothy’s goal was to get home and she told everyone she met that she needed to get back to Kansas. Although the good people of Munchkinland had no idea what or where 'Kansas' was, they did their best to point her in the right direction... following the Yellow Brick Road to Emerald City and the Wizard who could most assuredly help her out.
It's important to be clear about what your goals are. What do you want our of your college experience? Are you looking for a college degree? Do you want to be at the top of your class? What GPA are you looking for? Do you need to balance a job or work/study with your academics? Do you want to specialize in a particular field in preparation for a graduate school admission? Are you interested in exploring new fields of study? Do you want great networking for the "real world"? Are you there to party? How about play meeting people or playing sports? Are you seeking leadership opportunities? There are so many dimensions to college life and if you can give some thought to how you can maximize them to your advantage, it is more likely that you will be intentional about achieving them.
There is a management rule from Peter Drucker saying "what gets measured gets done". Setting specific and measurable goals for yourself keeps you accountable. Write them down, hang a note on your mirror, record them into an MP3 and listen to them daily- commit to doing whatever you need to do to keep them focused in your mind. It will strengthen your resolve and clarity around what you want so you can find ways to attain it.
Beyond having a clear goal Dorothy drew upon her personal attributes, skills, talents and strengths along her quest. To be successful she had to be outgoing, friendly, persistent, resourceful, cordial, committed and realistic. She was also able to be flexible and spontaneous- enjoying the journey, making new friends and learning about her environment. She even got an Emerald City makeover - perhaps that's a metaphor for how she allowed the experience to change her. College provides many opportunities to test the stuff you're made of. On Dorothy's journey, she grew up through her experience, stretching herself and gaining confidence. In the end, Glinda the Good Witch tells Dorothy that she didn't really need the slippers to get home; she had what she needed inside her all along. That is a powerful message for students in this incredibly transitional time- you don't need the shiny, external distractions --you already have what you need inside...it's just a matter of how you apply it.
You already have what you need to be successful, and here is your opportunity to show it.
So, before you reach for those Ruby Slippers, take a little time to think about this: What are your goals for your collegiate experience? What are your priorities? What skills, talents and strengths do you have inside you that will help you to excel? And, how can you test and stretch yourself to make the most of the journey along your Yellow Brick Road?