Sam Musser

Motivation for Graduation

Written by Nolan Ryan

The great composer Leonard Bernstein once said, “To achieve great things, two things are needed: a plan, and not quite enough time.”

At Hillsdale, you might have a physics exam, an American Heritage paper, and a Latin quiz all on the same day. There are simply not enough waking hours to dedicate all of our time to each assignment. It becomes important to realize when busyness becomes unhealthy, in which case we need to take a breather. Yet this lack of time can be beneficial.

Many students are more motivated when they are up against a hard deadline. Junior Samuel Musser is one of them. He says that working through such trials effectively helps him learn what works and what doesn’t.

“You’re learning skills as an adult, as you grow up, learning how to make things more efficient in your life. You take responsibility. Staying busy forces you to get things in line.”

Sam would be the first to tell you that he struggles with Hillsdale’s rigor. In high school he struggled with applying himself to areas of his studies that he found difficult. Sam chose to come to Hillsdale partly because he wanted to focus his college years on personal growth and responsibility.

Now his motivation comes from forming habits and being disciplined. He says it’s important to start small: eat healthy, make your bed, have a quiet time every morning. But don’t focus on the habits and discipline for their own sake.

“The fruits that come from habit are the goal, not habits themselves,” Sam says. “A lot of times the habits and diligence come through practice and experience. You’re not going to be able to build these habits on your own. You don’t just build them in class; you build them because of class.”

The more responsibilities we have, the crazier life can be, but this forces us to be more organized about our studies and our free time. Having a wide-open schedule doesn’t instruct us in the skills of efficiency and discipline.

“Hillsdale prepares you for a life of learning. You don’t just come here to learn; you come here to learn to love to learn. And it comes through rigorous training and rigorous work, but also an appreciation for the classical things, an appreciation for good, true things that last, that aren’t passing with the times. By appreciating those things and giving credence and respect to them, it makes us better individuals.”

Nolan RyanNolan Ryan, ‘20, is an English major and journalism minor from the frigid heart of northern Michigan. If you want to have a long conversation about life and theology, just start by mentioning C.S. Lewis or Emily Dickinson. In the midst of his studies, he occasionally finds time to pursue his love of ’50s music and good coffee.

Published in February 2019