This May I finished my bachelor’s in marketing through Unbound after a very long time (8 years cringe), and wow what a feeling of freedom! You might be thinking, whoa, 8 years?! What went wrong?
Here’s the thing. My extra-long expedition through college allowed me to try all sorts of different projects which helped shape who I am, showed me what I like (and don’t like), and gave me experiences I never would have gotten otherwise.
I didn’t take 8 years to get my degree because of financial aid falling through or class schedule issues. I was an Unbound student, and my slow pace was a purposeful decision. I wanted to gain lifelong skills while taking college courses, and I wouldn’t trade that experience for anything.
What kept me so busy, you may be wondering? Well, I…
- Started a direct sell business
- Got my Certificate in Nutritional Counseling (CNC)
- Ran my family’s horse boarding operation
- Ran a small business selling pastured eggs, hogs, and goats
- Did freelance marketing
- Tried out event planning by running small health conferences and charity balls
- Did a 6-month internship at a website development company in Philadelphia
- Was part of several student leadership teams with Unbound Student Life
- Got a job here at Lumerit and worked full time while finishing my degree
Here’s the cool thing, this could be you too! Okay, maybe not the farm bit if you’re not the outdoorsy type, but doing college with Unbound saves time and money and opens you up to many unique extracurricular activities you would never otherwise experience.
What could you do with some extra time while in college? Here are some ideas…
Do you have a skill that you want to hone or try in an environment other than your own home? Are you passionate about a particular ministry or charity? Are you thinking of going into a certain career field, but aren’t 100% sure it’s up your alley? Volunteer!
Ministries always need helping hands, and so do offices, hospitals, daycare centers, etc. And don’t stop after your first attempt. Gaining experience in multiple real-world situations will help you figure out if you really like (fill in the blank), or if it’s not your thing.
2. Devote 1 day a week to something new
Go on, just try something. Schedule a day on your calendar to build a new skill, practice an old one, talk to someone who is doing something you’re interested in, research that cool thing you heard about last week—anything that gets you exploring your interests.
When I started my nutrition business I had to learn the basics of how to run a business and how to market it. I would take a few hours a week to read, work on my website, and generally try to learn more about business. Through this process, I ended up realizing I enjoyed business more than nutrition.
3. Gather your friends and start something
Got a big idea (business, ministry, product, etc) but don’t know where to start? Go find some friends and give it a try.
Even if it doesn’t work out, it’s not wasted time. I have some personal experience with “failing” at something I started. I put “failing” in quotes because while by the world’s definition, I did fail. But that failure ended up being a learning opportunity that I never would have gotten otherwise.
I had started a small business as a nutritional consultant and was really excited! But (as I mentioned before) the more I learned about business and marketing, the more I realized I didn’t like nutrition quite as much as I loved marketing.
So, yes, my nutrition business ended up failing. But through that, I discovered my real passion. I was fortunate to have the freedom to try and fail at different ideas before it was imperative that I succeeded.
Now I’m doing what I love for a living! How cool is that?
This one is tried and true, but don’t pass it by. Interning is a great way to get that real-world experience in a career or industry you’re interested in.
In 2011 I did a 6-month internship at a web development company in Philadelphia, and it was great! Besides the fact that I got to go into the city and work in a tiny-but-cool office with an awesome view, I got hands on experience in website design, development, testing, client management, technical writing, and more!
Definitely wouldn’t have gotten that out of a book.
5. Join a leadership team
Leadership comes in many shapes and sizes and places. You can be a leader at church, in a school club, sports team, community organization, group project, anywhere you have the chance to influence another person’s life.
You see, if you’re bogged down by inflexible class schedules, you’re opportunities to flex your leadership muscle are limited. But when you’re in charge of your schedule, well, you get the idea.
While enrolled in Unbound, I enjoyed taking advantage of many opportunities to learn about leadership, and practice in real life! I coached my sister’s soccer team for 3 years. I was part of my homeschool group’s leadership team (editing their newsletter). And I was an active leader in the Unbound student community, leading video calls and a student leadership team.
(Don’t know about the Unbound Student Community? Learn more!)
6. Work part-time (or full-time!)
This might seem like a no-brainer, but hear me out. Get an entry-level position in a career or industry you’re interested in and start learning. Keep your eyes and ears open, ask questions, build relationships. Even if this isn’t the exact job you want, by approaching college unconventionally, you’ll have the schedule flexibility to work that unappealing job while earning your degree, which will bolster your resume and give you a running start at finding that dream job once you graduate.
You might discover you really don’t like parts of the job and it’s not a good fit. Or you may find that you love it and never want to do anything else.
I started working in the Courses Department at Lumerit when I was halfway through my degree, and I was able to work almost full time (sometimes more!) while finishing my coursework. I gained invaluable experience, was able to figure out what I really liked in a job and didn’t like. I was also able to get my foot in the door to transfer into the Marketing Department (what I really wanted) once I finished my degree.
This job was probably one of the most valuable experiences I ended up participating in because of my unconventional college journey.
Students following the traditional college route are locked into unforgiving class schedules and predetermined semesters. If you want freedom to take advantage of invaluable extracurricular activities that help you discover what you love (and possibly will get your career off the ground before you even graduate), then you want to do Unbound.
The possibilities are endless when you’re an Unbound student. What will YOU do?
Emily loves business and marketing. To prove it, she graduated from Thomas Edison State University with a marketing BA, joined the Unbound marketing team, and runs a small business on the side! For fun, she likes to cook, ski, and collect vinyls.Read more by Emily