If you have children or are a student yourself, August is a time of transition. My husband and I are entering our last transition of “back to school” with our son, Drew. He is entering his senior and final year at the University of Illinois (U of IL), after completing a summer internship at Garmin in Kansas City. I can’t help but reminisce about when he began college 3 years ago and how fast it’s gone by. (You can read about the transition to college and his love of triathlons here.)
Drew went off to college as a General Studies major with hopes of transitioning into the College of Engineering to study Computer Science(CS). He accepted and was willing to achieve the challenging requirements and grades to get into the program. He knew early on that he wanted to be an Illini, just like his mom (well, not sure if that was the exact reason), but when he didn’t get into the program right away, it didn’t faze him.
Fortunately, Drew had a U of IL counselor who saw his potential and got him into the required Computer Science classes needed to be considered for the program. With a single mindedness, Drew studied as well as trained and raced with the triathlon club and, after 3 semesters, he was accepted into the Computer Science (CS) program in the College of Engineering!
From my perspective, I don’t think Drew got into the program just because he worked hard. He got in because of who he is and how he looks at life. He has wonderful qualities that led him to be successful:
1 – Believing in yourself
From the moment Drew began college, he fully believed he belonged in the CS program. He believed this so deeply that others around him didn’t even question whether he was in the program or not. He even earned 1 of the top 10 grades in his first CS class which allowed him to be a lab assistant the following semester.
2 – Doing your best
In triathlons and in life, Drew is happy when he knows he has given it his all and done his best. Don’t get me wrong, he still loves to win but he doesn’t have that drive to ‘win at all costs’, which is what I believe separates olympic athletes from the rest of us. So, despite how awesome Drew is at triathlon, he will not be an olympic triathlete.
3 – Having a backup plan
Drew made sure to have a backup plan. At U of IL, there were other options to include computer science as part of a dual major in the college of LAS, where the requirements weren’t as demanding.
4 – Finding joy in the journey
Drew enjoyed the challenge of achieving his goals and never expressed doubt or complained along the way.
5 – Prioritizing
Although Drew managed to relax and have some fun, he put the usual college experience of major partying on the back burner until he got into the program. In case you were wondering, he didn’t, however, go crazy partying as soon as he was able, but just a little partying.
Drew is now 21, entering his senior year, still enjoying life with a big grin, still doing triathlons, looking forward to travelling next summer, and entering the workforce as a software engineer.
As hard as these transitions can be, it helps to keep those qualities in mind that led Drew to his success. In particular, it helps to remember that this is all part of the journey, and to enjoy it!
Do you have a transition story? I’d love to hear it in the comments below.