In a previous post about financial management, I said, “I believe the purpose of college is to prepare students for careers that will enable them to be independent, productive members of society capable of managing all aspects of their lives.” I stand by that. Ah, make that, I sit by that (think about it).
My specific responsibility at Towson is to teach Mass Communication subjects in the PR Track — PR writing, strategic and integrated communication/PR planning and management, principles of PR, and PR for nonprofits. But I am doing enough?
Every class I teach includes at least some reference to Abraham Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs. This is usually part of teaching students to analyze publics and their motivations to set the stage for persuasion. At the top of that hierarchy is self-actualization. My favorite author Marsha Sinetar says that simply means growing whole. Am I helping students to become whole? Is that part of my responsibility?
Perhaps it is not directly my responsibility, but I want to help students become whole, to become self-actualized people equipped to deal with life successfully. College years are a time of discovery, a time to learn and explore options. It is a time for students to learn to do something that will support them and allow them to be productive, responsible, independent citizens.
Ultimately, I believe that college provides the framework for students to find their right livelihood.
College years are filled with decision-making opportunities. I firmly believe that growing up means learning to make wise choices. That’s a tough one. Which career path should I follow? What do I really want to do? What do I really want out of life? Setting career goals and making wise choices that will get you there is the real beauty — and terror — of college.
Sinetar says that every time we consciously choose something, however insignificant it might seem, in line with what we feel is highest and best in ourselves, we support our true life goals.
Students are saying: “So, professor dude, like where’s the wikipedia info to show us like how to do this?”
News flash: You already have all the guidance you need. It is inside you.
First, you have to examine your inner programming to determine what tapes are playing on a continuous loop in your brain. Are you genuinely pursuing your own path or one that has been programmed for you. This can be as simple as gender-specific roles that society programs us to adopt. Men do certain jobs and women do certain jobs. Period. End of story. Is such programming interfering with your pursuing a desired career path? If so, erase the tapes.
Next, consider what you want out of life. While it takes a certain income level to be above the poverty line, how much money is enough? Is money that important to you? If so, then you must consider what career path will lead you to the riches you desire.
Pursuing the big bucks means some serious sacrifice. The people I’ve worked with who made the most money worked the longest hours and had the most difficult assignments. Their relationships and their health suffered because of it. Everything is a trade off — if being rich is your goal, then you can do it, but be prepared for the personal cost it demands.
I firmly believe that you can have a meaningful career that allows for your personal growth and make enough money to be comfortable, too.
It gets back to choices. Choose to know who you are and what you want to be. Then, study what career options are open to you that will allow you to travel the road to self-actualization, to wholeness. There are many paths to wholeness, but only you can choose which is right for you.
Remember, it is not so much what you do, but who you are, that matters.
A Zen proverb says, “When the student is ready, the teacher will appear.” This has always proven to be true in my life. I have lived three times longer than my average-age student. One advantage I have over my students is I have been my age and their age, too.
My advice to students is to trust this proverb. When you are ready, the teacher you need will appear, or on the job, the mentor you need will find you. But you have to trust this to make it work. You have to believe.
So much in life is based on the choices we make and what we believe. Know yourself, believe in yourself, and make wise choices that affirm who you are and what you want to be. Do this, and you WILL live successfully.