Same College, Same Major, Wildly Different Experiences

Kelsi Stewart

Two Male College Students With Two Different Experiences

Setting scholarships and financial aid aside, tuition is the same for all students who attend a specific college. This means every student pays the same amount to step on campus as a student. Every student also has access to the same course catalog, new student orientation opportunities, student support programs, clubs and activities, campus events, and more.

But the truth is, two students can attend the same college, choose the same major, and have access to all the same things, and still have wildly different student experiences.

For example, one student may graduate with an impressive resume and a job they love and feel overwhelmingly satisfied with their college experience. But another student with the exact same degree from the same college may not love their job and question whether college was worth the investment.

This might have you wondering: What was the difference between these students’ college journeys?

College Success Comes Down To Student Decisions

Students must make a tremendous number of decisions while in college. Many of those decisions like choosing a career path, declaring a major, changing a major, and completing an internship affect the rest of their lives. And while those decisions are the most talked about, they aren’t the only decisions that provide vital life experience that translates to a bright and successful future.

Consider just a handful of the other decisions college students make:

  • Should I attend that campus event? Who do I want to invite to go with me?
  • Do I want to join that club, organization, or team?
  • Am I going to volunteer for a committee, or join the leadership team or board of a student organization?
  • Should I go to that party even though I have a big test tomorrow?
  • How much effort will I put into this homework assignment?
  • Will I complete an internship in my desired field?
  • Should I sign up for that cool student trip even though I don’t know anyone that’s going?
  • Could a career counselor help me find the right career path?
  • Should I ask the teacher to clarify the expectations on this assignment?
  • Does it matter if I’m on time to meet my study group?
  • How can I get work experience that’s relevant to my major and career path?
  • Do I want to check out a free yoga or fitness class at the rec?
  • Will it matter if I skip class today?
  • Do I want to rush a sorority or fraternity and do Greek life?
  • Should I see an academic advisor to get help choosing my classes?
  • Do I just want to stay in and watch Netflix?

Every decision a college student makes affects their student experience, their connection to their campus, and how they feel about their time in college. It also affects their personal growth and shapes who they become as they step into adulthood and look to enter the workforce.

A student’s decisions and their level of engagement in college will either fill out their resumes and position them as desirable job candidates, or leave them struggling to create the future they want.

Alex Vs. Taylor

Alex and Taylor went to the same college — American College — and graduated with the same Business Analytics degree in the same year, but their college experiences were nowhere near the same.

Alex lights up when he talks about college and says it was a transformational experience where he had the space to find himself and make an impact. Alex was the treasurer of his fraternity, a tutor in the business school, and worked as a tour guide on campus. He attended networking events to scope out potential internship opportunities, and even started a mentorship program where alumni paired up with juniors and seniors.

Alex has great college memories and a strong connection to his campus. And now as an alumnus, he visits campus, speaks to students in the classes he once attended, and even donates each year to the Business Analytics program.

Taylor, on the other hand, doesn’t have a lot to say about his college experience. He doesn’t remember much beyond going to class, doing homework, and hanging out with friends. While he had a part-time off-campus job, he didn’t get involved in any campus organizations, never attended any events, and only saw an advisor in his first year when it was required.

Taylor wasn’t connected to campus or the student community in a meaningful way. He now feels like college was a transaction that wasn’t worth the investment and believes he could have secured a job even without college. 

See the difference between the two students and their college journeys?

Alex took charge of his collegiate journey, got involved on campus, and built relationships, while Taylor coasted by doing the minimum, and failed to take advantage of the opportunities on campus to grow and find belonging.

What Drives Students To Engage On Campus

Every student who enters college does so to graduate and create a better, brighter future, but that reality doesn’t come to fruition for every student.

  • Some students, like Alex, are motivated to go all-in and take advantage of every experience and opportunity that comes their way. They are driven to excel in their classes, get involved on campus, step up as a student leader, and meet new people.
  • Other students, like Taylor, struggle to find the motivation to do anything other than go to class, do the homework, and graduate.

Here’s the thing: Motivation is like magic.

Everyone has it, just not in the same way. 

What motivates one person to get involved, engage, and drive to success isn’t the same as what motivates someone else. How YOU are motivated is unique to you and it explains WHY sometimes you immersed yourself in the task at hand, love every minute of what you’re doing, and feel deeply satisfied by the work, and other times you struggle to care.

When you know how you’re motivated, you know what energizes and fulfills you and what drains you and leaves you wanting more.

In the case of Alex Vs. Taylor, motivation explains why Alex found belonging on campus and Taylor didn’t. Motivation also explains how two students can attend the same college, choose the same major, and have access to all the same things, and still have wildly different student experiences.

In their first-year on campus, Alex and Taylor both had the opportunity to take the TruMotivate assessment. Alex completed the assessment and Taylor did not.

With his assessment results in hand, Alex was better able to understand who he is, what unique value he has to contribute, what drives his decisions and actions, and where he would best fit and be happiest within the campus community. With stronger self-awareness, he was able to put himself in situations where he could thrive and year-after-year, it paid off.

The TruMotivate assessment and companion student guidebook are transformative discovery tools that help college students learn more about who they are and how they show up in the world so they can experience college, work, and life at their best.

When used as part of first-year experience programs and new student orientation programs, it sets students up for greater success and positions them to be a future alumni success story.

While you’re here, we hope you’ll learn more about the benefits of TruMotivate, checkout out campus partner stories, and see how the impact of TruMotivate on students. Then, when you’re ready to bring our assessment your campus, reach out for a no-obligation conversation with our team.

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Kelsi Stewart

Written by Kelsi Stewart

Kelsi is an at-heart storyteller with a passion for helping others reach their full potential. She is driven to overcome obstacles and is motivated by listening to and sharing the stories of others.