Sure, maybe it isn’t a post specifically about Web 2.0, but it’s what I feel like writing this week and I’m going to work in some online course references!
A lot of problems that new college students face might be alleviated if they understood a pretty good metaphor that I am far from the first to propose:
Going to college is like joining a gym.
First, there’s the financial aspect:
- You must fill out an application and pay fees to join a gym, just as you do to get into college.
- Some gyms are much more expensive than others, like colleges.
- Some gyms have spas, Olympic-size pools, squash courts, and 73 different kickboxing classes, while some have basic equipment and lockers. Colleges also come in luxury and basic models.
- Don’t be surprised to find out that you pay a different amount for your gym membership than the guy at the treadmill or the woman over on the weights. College students end up with different bottom lines based on scholarships, financial aid packages, and even course selections.
- The gym takes your money whether you use the facilities or not. You pay tuition and fees whether you go to class, use the library, etc.
- The gym often increases prices each year. Colleges do that, too.
Then, there’s what you get out of your college / gym membership:
- If you don’t go to the gym, you really can’t blame the gym for your love handles. Similarly, if you don’t go to class, you can’t blame the course or professor for your poor grades.
- Some people use personal trainers to get better results. Similarly, your professors, a study group or a tutor will help you out in college. If these individuals are available–especially FOR FREE–and you don’t take advantage of them, that’s just not a good use of your membership.
- You may be putting in 60 minutes every day with the weights, and you still aren’t as toned as the man who wanders in 30 minutes 2 days per week. It’s not fair, but effort doesn’t always equal bigger muscles. Similarly, you may study and slave over lab reports for hours to get a “C” while someone else does all the work at the last minute and ends up with an “A”. It’s not fair, but effort doesn’t always equal better grades.
- If you only joined the gym because your friends did or because your family insisted, you can either sulk or suck it up and give exercise a try. No matter what brought you to college, you’re here. Try it. You might not hate it.
- If you only joined the gym to wear cute outfits to show off your physique and to meet potential mates, don’t hog the elliptical chatting someone up when people who actually work out are waiting for a machine. Similarly, if college is a way to find Mr. or Ms. Right, don’t interfere with the academic and personal endeavors of your classmates by flirting loudly in the library or having parties in your dorm room at 4am.
- If your only goal in joining the gym is to lose 10lbs or inches, there are ways to achieve that quickly, but the results may not last. Similarly, if your primary motivation in college is to earn good grades, you can find plenty of short-cuts, but you may not gain much real knowledge.
- Steroids can help you out in the gym, if you don’t mind the rage, impotence, and hair loss that come later on. Similarly, cheating and a variety of drugs may help you out in your courses, if you don’t mind the disciplinary actions, embarrassment, and even job loss that come later on.
- Even if you’re not seeing the ideal results in the gym, remember that you are THERE, working your body and improving your health. Similarly, if your grades aren’t perfect, remember that you are IN COLLEGE, working your mind and improving your future options.
On gyms vs. home exercise programs or videos…
- If the gym is too far or the hours too inconvenient, you can opt for a virtual gym via videos or other at-home programs. Similarly, college students often can take classes online when the commute or the times aren’t a good fit.
- Sometimes a live trainer works better than virtual ones where you must rely more on yourself for motivation. Similarly, you may be a college student who needs face-to-face interaction (a coach standing there pushing you forward) rather than an online course (where encouragement comes as an e-mail).
The gym may drive you nuts. If you take it seriously, you will make some great friends, be pushed to your breaking point, achieve new highs, feel like giving up, learn a lot about what you’re made of, and wonder why you keep coming back. You can get your money’s worth or just pay fees, month after month, for nothing. Ditto for college.