Thomas Edison State University By Thomas Edison State University • August 9, 2013

On Your Mark, Get Set... Study! Running the Marathon of College

“We all have dreams; in order to make dreams come into reality it takes an awful lot of determination, dedication, self-discipline and effort."

- Jesse Owens, Olympic Gold-Medalist runner

Whenever the Trenton Half Marathon approaches in the fall, avid and amateur runners from all over the world stretch, strengthen and push themselves to prepare for the big event. And in homes, libraries and offices across the country, students continue to proof-read assignments, check their reading lists and gear up for exams as they head toward a different type of finish line. Whether you are gearing up to run a race or getting ready to return to college, you are preparing to accomplish a major milestone in your life. You can see the finish line as you hit the “submit” button on your application for graduation, or sprint toward the last credits you need to fulfill your degree program requirements. After all that training, studying and preparing, at the end of the day, you did it. With your friends and family cheering you on at graduation or at the finish line, maybe a marathon and college aren’t so different after all.

Graduation: The Ultimate Finish Line

  1. Start training: In each endeavor, there needs to be some sort of training, mentally and/or physically. You wouldn’t take a test without studying, just as you wouldn’t run a race without proper stretching.
  2. Know your limits: Early on in your training or schooling, you need to know your limits, and push them. By pushing yourself, you can go that extra mile to cross that finish line. On the other hand, it is just as important to know your limits and learn to take it easy when necessary – you wouldn’t use up all your stamina at the start of a race by sprinting. So if the training seems difficult, dial it back. Or if being a full-time student with a family and job seems impossible, consider finishing your degree on a part-time basis.
  3. Move at your own pace: Like finishing your degree, the time it takes you to graduation day does not matter; all that does matter is that you reached the finish line. You did it.
  4. Go the distance: An added benefit of marathons is that they are often held in a variety of locations, guiding you through routes that can be fun and exciting to experience for the first time. Likewise, completing your degree can advance your career, providing new opportunities and ventures you wouldn’t have been able to experience if not for that degree.
  5. Get rewarded: Be it a medal or diploma, there is always a reward waiting for you at the finish line. But, the personal reward is the greater one; you develop a sense of achievement and fulfillment. Just as you were inspired to run or study, you will inspire others to complete their own goals. And that’s a pretty amazing feeling.

Ultimately, you won’t finish a marathon or complete your degree unless you are motivated. With the right training, mentality and inspiration, you will get to that finish line; for our graduates each September, it will be poised right there above the commencement stage. Be it college or a marathon, understanding the expectations of any goal will only prepare you as you hit the ground running.

What other ways have you found a marathon and college to be similar? Share them in the comments!

Thomas Edison State University

Written by Thomas Edison State University

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