A diary of a college student: Nathan’s story

“A diary of a college student” is a series where we profile a variety of students to get a glimpse of their day-to-day. Learn from their stories of balancing family, work, and school.


Lately, I have been overwhelmed with thoughts of graduation, landing a full time job, and relocating to a new city, even though I am a year away from receiving my degree.  However, as I drove down a rural highway in Mississippi, I read a sign in front of a small business that quoted the late Robert Collier, made famous by his self-help books. It read: “Success is the sum of small efforts, repeated day in and day out.”  This put me back into perspective: I must remain committed to my daily tasks, which I have control over, and not become overwhelmed with the worries of the future.  I must study, plan, research, and find my craft before I can jump into making life-altering decisions.  That statement reminded me that if I focus on taking advantage of my opportunities each day that I am blessed to see, then everything will fall into place.

Tell us about yourself

I am a 23 year old MBA student, notably about 10-15 years younger than my cohorts in both appearance and experience.  Many of my classmates are managers and team leads at their organizations with a family, a couple of kids, and a mortgage.  Meanwhile, there is me: A graduate assistant in the marketing department of the business school.  Don’t get me wrong, I am very fortunate to be in my situation and I am thankful beyond words can express, but sometimes I forget that I am still building a foundation and I just want to begin my career. Knowing that all of the people in my classes are so much further in their careers makes me excited about what my future holds, but just when I hit that point of restless dreaming, I find myself again and reflect on what got me to this point in my life thus far: Accomplishing my little goals each day.  It truly is amazing what you can accomplish in life when you have a plan and do not simply make a choice when you run out of time to prepare.

What motto do you live by?

I suppose that my situation is probably completely different than yours.  I realize that you may have no interest in business or graduate school.  I understand that your life’s circumstances may have you going down your own unique path.  However, there is one thing that remains constant no matter what walk of life you come from: If you succeed every day, then you will succeed in life.

How do you get through each day?

Often times, we state that the ends justify the means.  Although this is true, the “means” often determine the quality of the “ends.” In other words, you get out of life what you are willing to put into it.  The best plan to handling the challenges of work, school, volunteering, and anything else that is a part of your daily life, is to split up what is demanded of you and create small goals that you can accomplish each day.  View each day as a stepping stone towards your ultimate goal, using the present as an opportunity to improve on yesterday and as a foundation for tomorrow.  For example, when I have an essay due in a month, I will make an effort to write just one paragraph a day or when I input students’ exam scores into the system, I will break it up by page and take a stretch break after I finish each page.  By doing this, I avoid frustration or boredom and I can make necessary edits and catch my mistakes before it’s too late.

Not only does achieving small goals make you more efficient, it also increases your productivity and lowers your stress levels.  Taking advantage of each day allows us to put away what we are working on and forget about it for a while, which in turn allows us to come back the next day feeling refreshed, with a new frame of mind to get the job done.


Put in the work now rather than waiting until the last minute, take your time and pace yourself, reflect and build upon each day, and you will be astonished by what you accomplish.


Nathan JoyceAbout the Author: Nathan Joyce is a 23 year old full-time graduate student at Virginia Commonwealth University. He is studying for his MBA.




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