Student Perspective

PERSEVERE!

by Benjamin Skye | April 27, 2011 | Student Perspective 0 Comments

This week, I stumbled across an article on the website for the Chronicle of Higher Education which told the story of how this one lady took 19 years to finish her undergraduate degree. This blog post is my response to that article.

This is what school may feel like for many of us sometimes...

This is what school may feel like for many of us sometimes...

The past month has probably been the most strenuous period of my undergraduate career. I have lost count of the number of nights where I have stayed up until morning trying to complete some major project due the next day. I have lost count of the number of pages I have compiled, composed and edited in terms of papers. I have also lost count of the number of meals I have skipped after going “into the zone” whilst focusing on my assignments. Overall, it has been a crazy few weeks. In fact, I even rewarded myself by buying a mug with the image of a graduation cap on diploma on its side with the words “YOU SURVIVED!” beneath the image. I haven’t had any coffee in that mug yet, but I probably will soon enough.

This is an image of the mug I bought for myself through an online website when I was struggling to finish an assignment around 3 am one night. The two words say it all.

This is an image of the mug I bought for myself through an online website when I was struggling to finish an assignment around 3 am one night. The two words say it all.

As of today, I am approximately 18 days away from graduation. If there is any one word I would choose to repeat to myself over and over again throughout this period, it would be the word: “PERSEVERE”.

Watching some of my friends from my year graduate early this past December was not the easiest thing to handle. Sure enough, I was extremely thrilled for them and excited about how they were going to start a new phase in their lives. On the other hand, knowing that I had one more semester to go made it slightly uncomfortable for me to share in their accomplishment.

This semester has been really weird in many ways. As I come closer to the end of my undergraduate career, I have had the misfortune of struggling more and more with self-doubt. The confidence that accompanied me when I left Penang, Malaysia three and a half years ago seemed to have dissipated as I clocked in more and more hours in academia. Even though I was taking more upper- level classes and doing better than I had ever done in school, there was still this lingering thought that I wasn’t “smart enough” to earn my degree.

All this probably makes persevering much harder than it already was.  Yet an article I read today really helped me put things into perspective. This article describes the experience of this one lady who took 19 years to complete her undergraduate degree. In other words, she had a 17 year head start on me but is only finishing up one semester ahead! Pretty ridiculous stuff! (To read the article, click here.)

Vitzthum Curio (yes, that is her name) finally graduated after spending 40 semesters in school! It is admirable to see how she has never given up all these years. Read her full story here.

Vitzthum Curio (yes, that is her name) finally graduated after spending 40 semesters in school! It is admirable to see how she has never given up all these years. Read her full story here.

That being said, what this lady has accomplished is truly something worthy of admiration. Imagine how each of 38 semesters (19 years multiplied by two semesters per year) she has had to witness numerous seniors completing their degrees while she eagerly anticipates her own. It is amazing how she has never given up after all these years – a testimony to the value of education!

So where am I going with this blog? To be honest, I am not too sure entirely. Perhaps the best thing I can say to any college student struggling with self-doubt that they are not alone. As far away as graduation may seem (and I promise you that the closer you get, the further it feels. It’s the whole “so close yet so far” idea), you should never give in to the temptation to quit or fall short of the standards you have set for yourself. Part of coping with the challenge of finishing strong is to remind yourself of two things: why you came to college in the first place, and how much of a blessing it is to have this opportunity to learn and grow.

I close with a quote from one of the most brilliant scientists of all time. No one captures the virtue of perseverance more aptly than Albert Einstein who once said:

“It’s not that I’m so smart, it’s just that I stay with problems longer. “

Whether you are in college or high school trying to get into college, remember: perseverance is key. Stay strong everyone!

Full Link to article cited from The Chronicle of Higher Education: http://chronicle.com/blogs/headcount/after-40-semesters-a-part-time-student-sees-the-finish-line/28144

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