Wednesday, July 7, 2010

Are You Lost?

That was question I asked a young man this afternoon. I was on my way to the bookstore to purchase some more items for the conference I am working on. He was part of freshman orientation and he was just trying to get his bearings. He said, "I'm always lost!" We stood on the steps of the Haslam Business Building across from Hodges Library, within sight of Neyland Stadium, across the plaza from the University Center. I pointed out to him that those three buildings - the stadium, the library and the UC - were basically the "hub" of the campus and that if he remembered where those were, he could find everything else.

What about you? Do you feel "lost" as you venture forth for the first time as a nontraditional student? Or do you feel you are aimlessly wandering midway through your program? Or are nearing the end of your degree program, but still feel lost because you don't know what the future holds? Find a point on a compass- like the library, the stadium or the UC.

Many people find their compass in God and prayer, in their faith. If you are not a spiritual person, who or where is your compass? If you are a new nontrad, perhaps that compass can be another nontrad, or an advisor, or a good friend. If you are a continuing nontrad, perhaps that compass can be a trusted professor, a spouse or friend, or a fellow nontrad in your same program. If you are a seasoned nontrad at the end of your program, perhaps that compass can be an alumnus in your program, a fellow nontrad who has graduated and can encourage you in your future endeavors, or a close friend or spouse.

We all need someone to whom we can turn to and say, "I'm lost", who will gently guide us in the right direction. GPS does not work in this case. It takes good old-fashioned figure-it-outedness to get us where we need to go. We need the help of someone, or perhaps a couple people, to get us going in the right direction. Don't be afraid to ask for help. Don't be afraid to stop and ask for directions along the way.

Are you lost? Ask someone for help. Let someone who has been there journey with you. In the end, we will all make it to that destination - obtaining our college degree. Stay tuned . . .

No comments: