By KarieFugett on January 20, 2012
The first time I applied for college was when I was 20 years old. I had been married for only a couple of months, my husband was deployed, and I had recently realized that my current career, flight attending, just did not fit in with my new life. I needed something more stable - something that gave me a better paycheck and allowed me to be home every night. I knew the only way I would be able to get what I wanted was to go back to school, so I signed up.
Not long after, I got the acceptance letter. I took my math placement test and applied for financial aid. Everything was set for the Summer semester. I was so excited and proud of myself. Until that point I had never imagined myself to be a college student. I always thought I didn't need school to succeed. Now, with school at my fingertips, I wanted nothing more.
A week or so later, I got the message that Cleve had been injured in Iraq. I threw college to the side and I went to DC to take care of my husband.
Over the next four years I applied to college multiple times. I've lost count of how many. Each time Cleve seemed to be doing better and things seemed to be more stable, I would find the nearest college and apply. Each time I eventually had to resign for one reason or another, usually pertaining to his injuries; sometimes due to my total insanity and inability to cope with our new life. Going to college, it seemed, had become an unattainable goal. Still, it became an obsession - my ultimate goal in life.
It has been six years since Cleve was injured. Six. Freaking. Years. It has also been six years since I applied for college for the very first time and was shot down by life's crazy circumstances. It's been a long journey. But that's ok. Because today, I write this AS a student (thank you, thank you). In fact, I just finished my first week. I finally did it.
Though I am much older than I would prefer to be as a college freshman (it's very weird to have 19 year-olds as my peers), I am proud of myself for making it here at all, and for having the gonads to do it after not seeing the inside of a classroom for nine years. And really, I probably have a lot more to offer at this point in my life than I would have back then, anyway. I know exactly what I want to do, I know how the "real world" works, and I know how lucky I am to be able to even have an education.
To anyone who may be considering going to college as a non-traditional student, I encourage you to do so. It is not as bad as you might think it is. In fact, it's pretty awesome - I think, anyway.
Yesterday, as I was running to my next class, sure I was going to be late, I felt like I was going to cry. Not because I was afraid of being late, but because I was so happy to be having that problem. I was a student late for class. What an amazing gift!
It's never too late to tackle your goals and never too late to create a new life for yourself. I'm so excited to see where this takes me.
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