Can I get a College Redo?

Can we get really real? Can I just be very vulnerable with you all? Okay, let’s.

Some just a couple of months we will see a lot of videos and photos of students walking across that stage to accept their diplomas and degrees. Many students are already posting their grad pictures and I love looking and reading every post.

I’m laying here just so proud of these people – random people. Then I couldn’t help to think about my own college journey. I attended two colleges. I was an English major. Originally I planned to get my degree and teaching credentials to become a high school English teacher. Then through the fear of job security I decided to figure out something else to put my degree to use for. What was my plan B? I didn’t have one. All I knew was I needed to make a lot of money because I was going to be in huge debt.

I bounced ideas. I started to panic. I tried to convince myself into thinking I was going to be okay. I tried to convince myself that my choice to not continue with my dream to become a teacher was good. If I could do college over again, I would. I actually enjoyed college. I just wish I knew what I wanted out of it. I wish, at the time, that I focused more on my education and interests than any mediocre drama I “thought” was important. I wasn’t taking my education seriously enough. I was determined enough. My future wasn’t important enough. I took it all for granted. I mean there I was in college with so many doors and opportunities available to me and I took it for granted.

Fast forward three years later post graduation and I’m working in a career not in my field; just trying to make the best of it. I’m just trying to succeed with what I settles for. It would be easy for me to say “college is a waste”, “higher education is corrupt”, “college education means nothing”. I started to think all of that. Because, like I said, I’m not working in my desired field. But in reality, I believe education is the key. We just have to be wiser as to how we choose to be educated and how we choose to apply the knowledge. It all starts with a desire to learn and the determination to become a success. I’m definitely not a success story of graduating college and working your dream job. But I do believe that I’m a great advocate for the younger generation to be more cognitive of themselves: their interests, dreams, ambitions. Because you can only feed your mind if you know what you need. You will reach success if you aim for it.

College isn’t easy and it isn’t for everybody. But I’m all for it. Even if I’m $60,000+ in debt. I hope, through my past mistakes, to guide my children onto the right path and help to set them up for success.

P.S. Yes, I do feel stupid for getting myself that much in debt with no strategy of paying it off in a reasonable amount of time. Yes, I really wish I could do college all over again because I would definitely proceeded towards my goal to become a teacher. At least I would have been doing something I loved and had a passion for.

The most expensive paper (That I didn’t own)

Last night I opened up my mailbox app and saw an email with the subject line “RE: Diploma Hold”. I opened it, of course. Read it. Then laughed and shook my head. Let’s rewind:
I graduated from college two years ago. I didn’t have a job lined up; I didn’t know what field I wanted to get into; I didn’t have a career lined up. During school I worked an average of 2-3 part-time jobs and did a couple of internships. I was struggling, hard, but I managed to get by. After walking the stage I still had a few courses to take to fulfill my degree unit requirements. So I was stressing about that. I also had no idea where I would or could apply to for a fulltime job. Number 2 of my stress. Then talk about bills piling up. It took me a little longer than 5 months to secure a job; which caused me to fall behind on a lot of my bills, including some student loans. It really became the decision between eating and paying a loan during some months. In the meantime I was still working retail, part-time, with terrible hours. After securing a better part-time job I quick my retail job and started to sign up for the last few units I needed to complete my degree. The only reason why I couldn’t start fulltime at my new job was because I didn’t technically have a 4-year degree yet. Thankfully, they let me work part-time and while I was taking courses online.
There I was a few months later. It’s taking much longer than I anticipated completing the courses, but I’m done! Finally! I submit my last assignment and finally felt accomplished again. I waited a few weeks, then a couple of months and I still haven’t seen my diploma. Then I email the registrar’s office. They emailed me back to tell me there seemed to be a hold on my account. They said I could log into my account and check out what the hold was. I do so. It was something along the lines of finances and gave me a number to call if I wished to do so.
Long story short after receiving that email last night after them telling me already why I couldn’t receive my diploma, I felt dispirited. I was literally living the expression “you’re paying for a piece of paper”. After putting in the hours, tears(literally), and work all those years. My diploma, which I earned, is being held hostage because to the university the small amount owed is much more important than rewarding my accomplishment. It’s disheartening. I tell my nephews and nieces often that college may not work out for everyone but give it a chance. Invest into your education because no one can take that away. Yet there I was, reading an email that made me sick to my stomach. That may sound a bit dramatic but seriously. As students(former students) we work and struggle to get this piece of paper that tells people that we are smart enough to work for (insert company). Then when we fall on hard times, institutions such as universities tell us that we can’t have that PIECE OF PAPER because they need more money.