Category Archives: College planning

(Un)hinged

Ambitioussoul

Hinges: not just hardware.

Hinge moments. I’ve always called them epiphanies, but “hinge moments” sounds like the next best marketing campaign. So I’ll go with that.

In Jon Acuff’s book Quitter, he talks about hinge moments. Those moments that while you’re in them seem as inconsequential as the color of my nail polish but when you stop to reflect,  you realize that one measly moment changed your paradigm and your path from there on out. You know those moments—when  the universe is pushing you in what seems like a natural, formidable direction, but every molecule of your being is resisting, and you’re not sure why. The resistance typically starts as a dull but nagging feeling deep inside your mind, but once the spark is ignited by this seemingly innocuous person, event or experience, you’re given all the evidence (or faith) you need to change direction. These moments can cause angst. They can cause agita (one of the only medical terms I know how to use in context.) But for me, hinge moments have come in two forms: a famous sportscaster and a drab apartment.

Here’s to you, Mr. Costas
It was my sophomore year of college. As the campus radio station’s News Director, I was flown to New York City to interview Bob Costas and a couple other broadcasting dignitaries at a prestigious media luncheon. When I finally got my marantz to cooperate and my heart beat to slow down, I made my way through the crowd to interview Mr. Costas (and yes, I was that formal with him. Come on, besides the multi-colored rings, this guy is the next best symbolism for the Olympics).

After I was done asking the formal and mundane questions and we posed for a photo together, he turned to me and said, “Have you ever thought about going to Syracuse University’s Newhouse School?” Ughhh noooo… the dreaded question. I had been dealing with this inquisition since I began looking at colleges my junior year of high school. I had been adamantly against going to SU since I could spell the world “college.” Sure I loved the Carrier Dome and Otto the Orange (lamest mascot ever,) but being from Syracuse, I was just… over it. I of course didn’t explain this deep disdain to him, but simply smiled and told him being from Syracuse was enough to keep me away. Being a Newhouse alum himself, he shrugged, urged me to apply and was on his way.

Before this encounter, it had NEVER crossed my mind to apply at SU. I didn’t want to move near home. I didn’t want to go to a school where I’d be just a number in an auditorium of about 3,000 students, trying to figure out what the difference between two beetle exoskeletons was (and yes, once I got there, I had to do that. And I was a broadcasting major. Go figure.)

It seemed easier to stay put. I had great friends, a great social life and loved my classes. But something made me submit the application paperwork. Something pushed me to see it through. Many months and an academic scholarship later, there I was… at SU… loving life and thanking Bob Costas for his priceless nudge.

The irony of it all: I didn’t end up being a broadcaster. I didn’t even end up in the industry. But being at SU got me on the right track to understand what I loved (writing) and what I hated (always having to look good while carrying around a 50-pound camera and tripod in snowbanks up to my eyeballs).I thought about switching my major to Public Relations and Marketing, but that meant I’d have to invest more time and money into an undergrad education. No thank you. So I stuck it out, hoping (and knowing deep down) that the practical knowledge I had gained at my 2 1/2-year internship would propel me through my career.

So why do I have Bob Costas to thank? Welp, he led me to Syracuse University, which led me to my internship. My internship turned into my first full-time job once I graduated. It was that job that introduced me to my husband. I thankfully got to reintroduce myself to Mr. Costas several years later with my husband at my side, and I explained to him how he had truly changed my life, all with a simple question.

Little did he know that simple question made me question my entire life. My entire path. The path that led me to where I am and who I am on this very day. And little does he know today, I’m labeling him as “Hinge #1.”

It Takes a Village

I was pretty much packed and ready to go. The big move was only 10 days away. I had rehabbed some end tables, saved money for furniture and already paid first and last month’s rent for our new apartment (notice I said “our”) in the village. But one night, something woke me up as abruptly as my 12-year-old sister yanking at my eye lids. Something made me sit straight up in bed and whisper to myself, “I can’t do this.”

It was the “our.” I was moving into an apartment with my boyfriend. The boyfriend who I had been with for 4 1/2 years but still didn’t trust. The boyfriend who I clung to all through college and justified our unhealthy relationship as a “growing experience.” WHAT?!

Since I already revealed the ending in my Bob Costas story, you all know I moved on and found the love of my life. But instead of moving to the village, instead of going through the motions of this relationship, I decided to end it. I decided to chalk up our 4 1/2 years together as a learning experience, being young and being dumb. No, it wasn’t easy. No, I didn’t feel good about it at the time. But I learned sometimes the hard things and the right things are the same. And I was destined for something else, and more importantly, someone else. Hinge moment #2.

Find Your Hinge
If you’re older than 5 years old, you’ve had a hinge moment. You’ve probably had many. Sometimes it’s hard to pinpoint them, but they’re there. They exist to be discovered, explored and appreciated.

Hinge away!

~Ambitioussoul

Change of Seasons, Change of Heart

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The building may be pretty, but think about the bill!

I just received the dreaded phone call from my sister who started her first year of college only a month ago. When I saw her call come in and hit “accept,” I could sense the unsureness and panic in her voice. She didn’t waste any time telling me what was bothering her. The statement “I think I want to change my major” was hurriedly followed by the reasons why she wasn’t being fulfilled in her classes and how she came to this conclusion.

For all of us who have been through college, these times of “finding ourselves” seem so far off in the distant past that we probably read this and shrug it off, thinking it’s not that big of a deal. After all, how many of us even have jobs or careers in what we studied in college? I know I don’t. But before I spewed out my advice, I tried to not only think about the thoughts that were most likely swirling through my sister’s brain, but also about what I went through as a college student, the mistakes I made, and how to have her avoid them.

Do I think where you go to school means everything? No. After all, I went to a small, rural school for two years and transferred to a large university almost quadruple the first one’s size. It wasn’t because of the dorm rooms with their own private bathrooms, or the fact that they had my favorite cereal (Cinnamon Toast Crunch if any of you are taking notes), or even that the people wore UGG boots and carried Herve Chapelier bags.  It was hard to explain then, and it’s just as hard now. It just wasn’t… “it” for me. Little did I know, it was because the college didn’t fit over my hips! Say what?!

To me, college is like buying  a wedding dress. You know, the second you begin to slip it on, you start to tear up and say to yourself, “This is it… this is the one.” When you step onto the college campus you belong at, you suddenly feel at home. You have no reservations, no worries, no stress. It’s a pretty incredible feeling. And once you’ve found the perfect college ambiance, all your problems seem to fall to the wayside, right?

WRONG! What about your course selection? What about your college loans? What about the community that surrounds the campus? Back to my wedding dress analogy, it’s not just about satin versus chiffon, or tulle versus lace. There are so many other things to think about above and beyond the beautiful budding tulips peppering each and every green space and the large greystone buildings that tower over you at every turn. But this is what college has been marketed as; this is what all-knowing 18-year-olds look for (can you sense my sarcasm?)

It’s sad to say, but in my mind, this economy and the price gauging colleges and universities get away with year after year has led people to treat choosing a college like a business decision. What education can I buy for the least amount of money and risk? I know, this doesn’t make the decision sound sexy or even fun, but it’s the truth! It shouldn’t be about where you want to go, but what you can afford. Why try on a $10,000 dress when you can only afford one for $3,000?

So many people believe that where you go to school has something to do with your success. I would say yes in only about 3 % of cases. Why? Because the Division I football team’s success or the new off-campus housing the school built have nothing to do with your capabilities and skills once you enter the job market. It’s the practical experience you gain via internships and part-time positions that differentiate you from the other 50 million college students graduating at the same time as you (okay, that may be an extreme exaggeration.)

And I digress… the second variable should be what you’d like to study. In my sister’s case, she knew what she was interested in (as many post-high schoolers do,) but she wasn’t exactly sure how to classify it. As shown in my intiial story, she’s realizing she missed the mark and needs to go back to the drawing board, but better now than three years down the road with unrecoverable time, money, and effort invested. But let’s be honest– there’s alot of wiggle room when it comes to majors in college. Look at me: I was a broadcast journalism major, and I’m in marketing. Relateable? Not really. But I’m doing it. If I would have gone to my advisor 3/4 of the way through my college education and shared my thoughts on switching gears, she would have talked me into changing my major and spending another three years in college to the tune of $45K per year. No thanks…

I give my sister alot of credit. Between going to a state school solely because of cost and following her heart, knowing quickly she had chosen the wrong path, I know she’s headed in the right direction. Although she’s not at her “dream school,” in her “dream city,” she’s making it work… in her real life.

-Ambitioussoul

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