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By Ardain Isma

CSMS Magazine

How many times you hear someone bragging about his grand plan for the future? How many times you see a friend well fired up, ready to embark up on an educational journey? I’m sure you’ve heard or seen it tons of times. But how many of them have managed to reach the finished lines? The truth is that every mission in life requires some commitments, and when the mission is strategic, the commitment falls deeper. Say you want to secure a college degree in the near future, and you already have your set of objectives well crafted, gearing toward one goal.  What’s next?

Next, you need to put your bold desire into practice. You draw a financial plan with a short term projection. You go on to choose the best school in town and, after a grueling registration process, you get accepted.  You are enrolled in academic courses, moving toward your degree, your goal. By now, the bureaucratic machine is behind you. Here comes the biggest part, the tedious task: the academic obligations. Education is no gimmick. It can’t be bought from the marketplace. Nor can it be traded on Wall Street. It is an intellectual journey designed to lift an individual to the summit of academic altitude.

No academic program is easy, especially if you’re talking about higher education. When it comes to academic success, no one can buy his way to the top. He has to sit down and face the challenges head on. Otherwise, failure seems certain.

There are 4 steps that you need to overcome when you’re seriously working toward your academic goal:

  1. The honeymoon step. This is where everything looks rosy because at this step, it is just a dream, a beautiful dream. You’re already looking beyond, post graduation. Your level of optimism soars to its zenith.  
  2. The rebellious step. This one is the toughest of the steps. Reality now sets in, and your workload is one of an enormous capacity. You start having second thought. A kind of dubiousness suddenly creeps into your mind and you go soul searching. “Is this what I really want to do? If I knew it was going to be so challenging, I would have opted for something different, “you keep on saying to yourself. When that happens, don’t panic. It is a test of faith. It’s like when an airplane has just taken off and it’s finding its way toward the desired altitude, so the flight would go smooth.
  3. The acceptance step. At this stage, all form of resistance has been collapsed. You now feel you’re cruising your way to the finished post. Although the tasks continue to be challenging, but it’s no longer a huge burden that can’t be overcome. You’re now comfortable with the ride.  Self-confidence has been achieved.   
  4. The victory or final step. This is the moment that brings awe not only to your heart, but also to the hearts of your loved ones. You feel you’ve just gotten off a long but necessary ride. When you take some time, reflecting upon the last couple of years, you can only laugh. “How stupid I was to resist something so sweet? I was RIGHT staying the courses?”

Nothing comes easy in life, certainly not in academia. Those who go on to graduate and move on with their lives successfully are always the resistance fighters who’ve stoically managed to triumph over Step 2—the rebellious step. In this age of a highly competitive marketplace, there is no room for quitters, for they’re good to no use. So, be a winner. Follow your dream to the last step.   

Note: Dr. Ardain Isma heads the Center for Strategic and Multicultural Studies (CSMS). He teaches Cross-Cultural Studies at the University of North Florida (UNF). He is a novelist and also chief editor for CSMS Magazine. He may be reached at: publisher@csmsmagazine.org

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