When we are faced with the natural struggle of defeat, unhappiness or anything in life that ales you, we’re told to reach out.

“Reach out to your teacher for help”

“Have you reached out to your doctor yet?”

“Consider reaching out to your friends”

The definition of reach is to extend; to stretch; to thrust out; to put forth – and can be interpreted in all aspects of life. But what happens when you extend yourself for help or to look for answers and your reach is met with nothing? This was my experience with the system of higher education: I felt like my perfect major was out of reach.

So I began to outreach.

In three years, I had been to two different schools and had arguably been in four majors, each one letting me down a little harder than the last. I wasn’t looking for easy A’s or an impressive transcript, I needed a fulfilling educational experience. In Carly Ristuccia’s “Standing Alone” she described my problem with standard college majors,

“…if everyone just stuck to guidelines and tradition, the world would never grow and would never have the chance to become any better”.

 Until I majored in Interdisciplinary Studies I was beginning to lose hope that college could be a valuable part of my education. In my pursuit of the perfect major I began to outreach: to reach further than; to surpass or exceed; to go further than the school system allowed me. I started to network myself in ways that I never had before, on and off campus, that granted me friendships with advisers who I previously wouldn’t have connected with. I was producing more thoughtful and lasting work, and I caught myself loving to learn. Even homework stopped feeling like a daunting part of my day and instead became the way I interacted with my peers and saw what new things they were learning. After I had submitted the application for my programs approval I felt empowered: I defeated the diploma mill.

Too often when a student enters a university they prefer a handout, an experience where they’re able to reach out and be given what they desire. Instead, I looked for a hand-up: a program where I was forced to outreach what I had previously known to achieve something that hasn’t already been done before.

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1 Comment

  1. I think I’ve already told you that I used this at a conference as an example of the kind of program I want to be a part of: connected, optimistic, filled with intellectually curious students– I just love this post so very much. THANK YOU!

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