My Advice to the Struggling College Student

Alexander Gent

There is an old story of a boy on a farm. One day, a calf was born. The little boy decided to pick the newborn up and jump over a nearby tree stump with the calf in his arms.

The boy continued in this fashion each day, and, as the calf grew heavier, so the boy grew stronger. As he grew taller and became a young man, he began to jump a fence with the same calf in his arms.

Having never missed even one day performing this task, the young man hardly noticed the difference in the size of the calf or the amount of effort it took to perform the task. Eventually, the full-grown man was able to pick up the full-grown cow and jump over that fence.

I think this is an important anecdote for younger people in college to learn. It is somewhat analogous to their situation.

You’ve been learning how to deal with carrying a load of work for most of your life. Now it’s time to deal with reaching your goals.

With an unclear future looming ahead, I know that it is easy to become overwhelmed by the pressure of performing the tasks we assign ourselves to achieve the futures we desire.

At 18 years old, many of us feel like the world is rushing us to hurry up and become adults. This can lead to some people biting off more than they can chew. Pressure often comes from many outside influences like parents, friends, and significant others.

Many students face the struggle of figuring out how to finance their education as well as shelter. These students might understand the analogy better than others.

At 30 years old, I have gained the perspective to know that while time does fly, it isn’t running out. Young people sometimes have trouble realizing that in the big picture, every single day is a stepping stone on their personal journey.

It is hard to gain perspective of the big picture, as it comes from time and experience. It is important to understand that sometimes you must take a step back and decide whether you’re strong enough to pick that cow up and jump over the fence, or whether you should start with a calf and try to jump over a tree stump.

I feel like I should mention the importance of perseverance in the face of adversity. There is a philosophy shared by many that if you truly want something, you will do whatever is necessary to get it. If there is an obstacle blocking the path to success, and you let it keep you from reaching your goal, then you probably did not want to reach it as badly as you thought.

It is also important to remember that experiences such as these shouldn’t be written off as a complete failure to achieve one’s goal. It is often these experiences which will help us gain a perspective of the big picture.

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