Although we are often told that college is a time for self-exploration and a heightened sense of independence, we are often met with unsolicited advice on the “right way” to successfully complete college. It seems as if everyone’s timeline for our college experience is allegedly better than our own. 

Throughout college, I have been no stranger to comments such as, “by junior year you should have already had two internships”, “you should have more friends going into your third year”, or the infamous “you should intern with this company”. Despite the fact that most people mean well when they give you advice, this advice can have the opposite effect, especially if you are nowhere near the checkpoints for this imaginary timeline you allegedly should be following.

When you blindly follow other people’s timelines, you run the risk of ignoring your own desires, exhausting yourself, or feeling as if you are inadequate. Aside from college advisors (academic or career), close friends, or family that you trust, you can usually ignore unsolicited advice on what you should be doing at a certain point in time. Since everyone has their own unique desires and strengths, it is nearly impossible to strictly follow a timeline, just because other people in your major or school have done so. Similarly, there are a few questions you should ask yourself before you incorporate other’s opinions into your college experience:

  • Is this something that I want to do?
  • Does this advice have any connection to my goals?
  • Is it feasible (financially, logistically, etc) for me to carry out this plan?

If your answer is “no” to the majority or all of these questions, then you can most likely ignore this advice and thank the adviser for their time. 

As long as you are happy, on track to fulfill your goals, and your college advisor is not telling you that you are not making progress academically, you are most likely doing fine. Remember, this is your college experience, and your strengths and desires are more important than any imaginary timeline you should be following. 

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