The most challenging thing I’ve done so far in my life is finish college. Without any money to pay for school and dealing with a lot of “growing pains” I managed to stick to it and earned a 4 year degree in 7 years. I also did it without racking up any student loan debt! It is by far my biggest accomplishment and allowed me to get into a job where I would most likely never would have landed without the degree and experience earned because of college.
I must insert a big THANK YOU to federal and state grants for paying a majority of my college expenses along with scholarships. I only paid a very small amount with my own money. So, proof here that “the system” doesn’t always fail.
Going to school for so long was NOT easy–especially for a straightforward degree like Journalism. Towards the end of college I often joked, “I could be a doctor by now!” I worked full time and was completely responsible for myself right away. There were family issues, relationship issues, money issues, job issues, housing issues, car issues…all those hardships back to back. The option to live with parents or receive any financial support simply did not exist in my world. There was no “mom’s house” to go back to or anything like that. Either I provide a roof over my head or live on the street.
There was a time when my car broke down on the freeway while I was on my way to a summer school remedial math class and I just wanted to quit right then and there. There were times where I thought I would never meet the math requirement and going to college was pointless because I just could NOT get past that ONE requirement.
There was the time I got into a pretty bad car accident on my way to school and after the police wrote up their report and we exchanged insurance information I kept driving straight to school. Later, the insurance company deemed my car totaled.
There were times where I was just so TIRED. Tired of working and driving and studying and dealing with B.S. in life. I just wanted to be carefree and not worry about things anymore. I wanted to be like other people I knew that didn’t seem to care whether or not they dealt with the whole college thing. They just kept doing the same things everyday…and I’m so glad I didn’t take that path because I know I would be so miserable doing something plain. I was miserable working “plain” jobs while in school! By plain I mean something not creative, not in the field of what I am interested in–by all means we do need people working in clerical positions or doing data entry or retail. Those jobs needed to be done but I knew I wasn’t happy and became extremely bored at all of those jobs.
No matter how tired and defeated I felt I just couldn’t let myself take a break. The mentality was I either keep going or I just quit all together. No summer breaks, no semesters off–all or nothing. There were so many times that the end seemed so far. It felt miserable when I saw a majority of my former high school classmates posting on Facebook about their college graduations and I knew mine wasn’t for another 2-3 years.
There was that semester where I took a full course load at CSUN while working at a bank corporate office. My brain had to be “On” all day. No breaks. Work. School. Study. Repeat. Poor Kyle had to watch me melt down over the stress more times than I remember.
I got through it all. Those nights I cried over heartbreak and the tears dripped all over my text books. Those weekends I wanted to go out and do what other 20-somethings were doing but I couldn’t because I needed to finish this research project, because no time to do it during the week! Times when I was angry at my family situation. Those other kids my age get to go to school full time, why did this have to be so messed up...
That whole long, dragged out, painful college experience is the most rewarding and valuable thing I ever went through. I am not that recent college grad with no “real” work experience. My work ethic and determination where formed by those years. I was 17 when I started and 24 when I finally finished and completely confident and capable to take on anything.