Another pre-blog bit of writing. I dedicate this to my young cousin coming up, He’s gonna read this when he gets to this level.
I have seen guys drop out, I have seen guys drift, and I have seen guys make it. Every guy I have seen make it (or who is currently making it) through college has/had a few things in common:
1. They all at some point began working hard and consistently. Keeping a routine and having it be a busy one was/is very important. They also zeroed in on their work like a laser, which leads to the next point.
2. They blocked out a good deal of their environment/changed it. It is no secret that college is a distracting environment. There is a lot of fluff out there, especially at the beginning, and it is easy to go off course. Also, people underestimate just how much girls serve as a distracting influence, as the male sex drive is, even from a biochemical standpoint, quite a force to be reckoned with. This will be elaborated on further later. For this and other reasons, the guys I have seen make it tended to shape their lives so that distractions from the goal (graduating) were minimized, and focus was narrowed and intensified.
3. They formed formal/informal groups of like-minded individuals. This usually happened over time, as guys typically are not quick to join groups. The groups tended to form organically as classes drew strivers together, but also tended to become very cohesive.
4. They worked. Of the few guys I know who did not get a job after freshman year, they either dropped out for a while and then worked and came back, relied on alcohol/drugs, or served in some leadership/heavier-responsibility role in some group. The Bible is particularly sharp in exhorting men to work. There are a good many reasons on why this is the case, and that is a sermon series right there, but in short, work is the glue that holds a college man together. It solves a number of problems simultaneously and promotes discipline, consistency, and good time management skills. The extra pocket change helps too.
5. Finally, they managed, minimized, or eliminated their relationships with the opposite sex. I could say much on this point, having struggled (as all of us college guys do) in this area for a while. The simplest basic premise is that college is about 60/40 F/M now, and males have a sex drive that is magnitudes greater than that of females, combined with a relative lack of support systems, special funding, ect. This leads to all kinds of craziness. Some of this is changing slightly, but overall, college is a seat of the feminist movement, and as such, can be very hostile to healthy male behavior. However, guys adapt. The best way of doing so I have seen is a combination of basically blocking girls out entirely, spending most weekday time in either the gym, class, work, studying, or meetings, and focusing on that with an extreme intensity, while keeping a few friends the whole while. Second to that is managing relationships (some majors can manage this easier than others, but they all have to work at it, and it takes a pretty big investment of time and energy), or interacting only at certain times and locales or for specific reasons. The common theme is self-control of one’s lust and using the energy instead to focus on achieving the overall goal of graduating with a high GPA. In other words, keeping the main thing the main thing. The types of guys who are promiscuous tend to either settle for mediocrity, slowly fall off, or make it by changing their ways (even non-Christian guys do this in some form). VERY few guys can simultaneously juggle flings and good grades without also using substances and still make it, especially in more intense degree programs.
Overall, the key is self control and self-discipline. The days when you could go into a hedonistic state for 4 years, still pass classes, and walk into a high 5 or low six figure starting salary are long gone, and in some ways were never really here. College is not a place to play around. It is expensive, nothing is guaranteed, and there definitely is truth to the notion that it is overvalued. However, if you know what you are doing, you can still make it work for you. To really succeed out here it takes focus, determination, and hard work, as is true for all worthy endeavors.
The ultimate barometer of all this is how much girls can take you off of your path. The more you are swayed in your actions by females, the more you need to steel your resolve, and also the more changes in your routine, habits, and associations you may need to make. I have seen too many guys get led off track and not return because they could not control themselves. This struggle, in many ways, has determined whether a lot of dudes would sink or swim. It is a tough fight, but nothing worth doing ever was easy.