Growing up as a millennial, many of us were constantly met with the question “What do you want to be when you grow up?” Of course, many of us replied with the usual glittery answers such as an astronaut, a doctor, a lawyer or even a superstar (for those of us who practiced full- on dance routines in our mirrors as a child, preparing for our future careers as world famous entertainers—unfortunately not all of us grew up to become Beyoncé).
Yet, as we got older the question became more persistent, and of course many of us began to get more serious about choosing and pursuing a career; preparing the necessary steps that it would take to reach the careers that would shape who we would eventually become. While, on the other hand, the rest of us struggled to find what fit with us and put off any thoughts of adulthood throughout our teens. Eventually, when that time came, we still didn’t have the answer; and as we floated through our early 20s, the pursuit of an education became more of an invisible question mark above our heads. While life—and who we wanted to be—became fixed in our view; unable to see the two as one in the same. Yet, what I’ve come to learn is that the path of seeking the life we want to live, and seeking a higher education, are very much entwined; with education, such as life, being a very long, unpredictable and revealing journey. Yet, both education and life leading to what we as a generation are collectively searching for; our purpose, where we fit in and who we are. This is the enigma of the young millennial.
For me, the path to pursuing a high education was not at first met with enthusiasm. I thought that once I turned 18, I’d finally have the epiphany that would lead to everything in my life falling into place. However, 18 came and passed … and then came 19, then 20; and once 21 came and went, the semblance of feeling lost and the anxiousness to find my place in the world became too powerful to ignore. Funny thing is, while I felt I was the only one without a clue on who I wanted to become, I indeed was not. Many younger millennials in current times are yearning for and seeking different routes that help them find what works best for them individually. Thus, many are choosing to take their time with their education and actively look for paths that accommodate this desire to skip the fast track of university after high school and a degree in the expected four years. Those like myself, who are older than 23 but younger than 30, find no issue in taking our time to gain a degree. Pacing and leaving themselves open to discover careers, over time, that best fit the life that they are hoping to grow within.
Not uncommonly, many of those paths lead to community college, and luckily for me mine led to Lincoln Land Community College. While I may have started unsure about what I wanted to do as a career and perpetually doubting my ability to stick to a path of higher education—I can luckily say that LLCC helped to guide me over my time there. Most importantly, helping me to explore what I may want to do career-wise. In addition, the faculty and staff worked as aids, while I figured out the next big steps in my educational career. Always guiding without ever pushing me into decisions that I was not 100 percent comfortable with or felt forced into. Not only that, but the overall flexibility to be able to take however many classes I wanted (whether it be three or even six) and never feeling like it was breaking the bank. Or feeling like I ever was rushed to graduate, I could take a small load of classes and still felt supported by advisors who respected that I wanted to take my time. For me there was never any rush, and in turn that helped me form who I grew into over my three years attending LLCC. It is because of this, that I will forever be grateful to LLCC.
The strength behind LLCC that many other institutes for higher learning lack, is that it appeals to students of all ages. LLCC creates an environment that is dedicated to anyone wanting to find the potential career that speaks to them. They also provide the education that fits within their career goals. The time flexibility and cost that get students to the next steps in their lives. As well as, the insight that help students discover who they need to be in order to thrive in the world. Perhaps, one of the biggest advantages that LLCC provides are the tools and resources that help their students truly succeed in and out of the classroom. One such vital resource is the TRIO program. This program is vital in the lives of students who struggle with navigating the ins and outs of college. They act as mentors and support for those who lack this in their everyday lives. If that wasn’t crucial enough, TRIO also goes out of their way to provide the best environment for students to succeed and provides the warmth and care needed to help their students succeed, not only in school, but in life as well.
Not only does LLCC offer programs like TRIO, but they also provide aid in making sure all their students are able to get the most out of their time there. One great example of this is their Center for Academic Success. This is where students can find help with classes such as tutoring, aid from many of the faculty members (such as math and English professors); and help with tackling common issues students have, such as study skills and time management. Overall, the staff and faculty’s top priority is the success of the students, rather than students having to handle the load and stress on their own. LLCC provides the best support for students, allowing them to foster a positive learning environment for students—making for positive life experiences in order to foster the overall growth of students.
Every day it seems that we hear that the problem with millennials is our lack of ambition or desire to avoid the “tried and true” traditional road to education. Yet, when you really examine it, there is no actual problem. Rather, young millennials, like myself, do have desires and ambition! The only difference being that we crave to discover our own paths to the pursuit of higher learning, not the ones laid out and expected of us from the generations that came before us. While the aspirations of young millennials unfortunately go unseen, veering from conventional norms —an enigma for the older generations—LLCC has proven to be ahead of the curve in aiding to create the paths that current young adults are taking in order to discover who they want to be. Allowing LLCC to be the intersection where life and education meet. Granting millennials the freedom to get the most out of life—through the pursuit of education, their own way.
Tiffany Fenner of Springfield was named 2019 Outstanding Graduate of the Year at Lincoln Land Community College and was recognized as an Arts and Humanities Department Honor Graduate and for leadership in the Student Government Association. She was also a member of Phi Theta Kappa honor society, the Black Student Union, English Studies Club and A Different Curl, a club she founded.