Socrates. Harriet Tubman.Martin Luther. Steve Jobs. These people blazed trails for literally billions of others. We recognize and applaud them for their achievements and their commitment to their individual visions. However, few of us actually imitate the quality that makes these people truly exceptional: their determination to succeed.
At Bob Jones University, neither the excellent liberal arts program nor the incredible in-depth teaching of our courses is the most valuable thing we receive. I believe the most beneficial aspect of this University is the opportunities we have both on and off campus.
I see many students who show up to college, pick a major and expect a life of success to just come to them. I honestly believe that if someone leaves Bob Jones University and all they have is a degree, they have wasted their time.
Yes, your degree and the classes it represents are valuable, but that does not mean you are magically ready for success. God uses this university to provide us with so many opportunities for service and for leadership, opportunities that teach us real skills and give us unique experiences.
It is up to each individual student to pursue God’s will in her or his life. Advisers are amazing at what they do, but they are not there to lead students by the hand and plan out their entire careers. We must determine to chase opportunity if we ever hope to succeed in what God has for us.
For example, I take a heavy mixture of graphic design and communication classes, both of which tend to leave many of my assignments rather open-ended. At first, this really frustrated me. I wanted to be told exactly what the professor wants from me so that I can do the bare minimum and get on to the next thing. We don’t normally say it that way, but that is what we are want.
However, I have come to realize that these open-ended assignments should not be seen as confusing or vague or frustrating but rather as opportunities for me to create something that I am proud of. If you take these opportunities to do something truly great, the faculty here are not prone to penalize you, even if it is not exactly what they expected.
I believe that it is these assignments that teach us the most about who we are and what we can do. They allow us to stretch ourselves and to employ those critical thinking skills we talk so much about.
Too often we have a very nearsighted concern for grades. Granted, some majors require a very high GPA, such as premed or accounting, yet in a lot of situations we get caught up worrying about grades rather than about actually learning. I was recently given the opportunity to present a paper at a conference on Hilton Head Island. Unfortunately, because of this opportunity I mistakenly missed 40 points in one of my classes as I was unable to turn in an item which couldn’t be made up.
Obviously, it was painful, but I reminded myself that no matter what my grade is in the class, I did learn that material and in the long run have not lost anything at all. In fact, I gained a great deal from presenting at the Carolinas Communication Association Conference.
This kind of reflection encourages me to continue taking advantage of the many opportunities here at Bob Jones University. It is very easy to get discouraged when you look at the swelling list of things you need to do. But when you look back at the major themes in your life, the things that matter, you realize that God is taking you in very specific direction and is teaching you all the things you never knew you would need.
Keeping the big picture in mind is one of the most encouraging things I do. Planning ahead, recognizing why I am doing what I am doing, and reflecting on the progress I have made are all huge parts of my life. Make sure that you are in God’s will. Do not let laziness or procrastination hold you back from succeeding in what God has for you.
Nobody else is going to succeed for you.