One of the greatest moments of my life was when I walked across the stage and received my Bachelor’s degree in Psychology and seeing the smile on my grandmother and mother’s faces. I walked across that stage and felt like one of the biggest burdens had been lifted off my shoulder, I could proudly say that I was a college graduate and no longer a college dropout.
At the age of 24, I returned to college with a determination to finish my degree and let go of the regret of dropping out two years prior. I could go on with all the details of me leaving school, but at the end of the day it boiled down to me giving up on myself. I had a great job working at the Urban League of Greater Dallas and was loving life when I received notification that my grant may not be renewed and I could possibly lose my job. One of the worse feelings in the world is the feeling of uncertainty with your job, daily. I received the notification in June and decided I was going back to school that July. There were a few signs that let me know I would be returning before then and I thought I would share just a few.
- “Hi, this is Jane from Naviant and we are calling about your student loans.” Listen, I avoided these calls so much and hated the thought of giving Naviant 230 dollars monthly for something I didn’t have! One of the first motivations I had was understanding that I had already invested money into my degree and I needed to cash in on this investment. I attended a private historically black college (Hey, Oakwood) and tuition was far from cheap. I understood the importance of investing in myself and knew that I deserved to have what I was paying for.
- “It’s not when you finish but the fact that you finished that matters” I remember feeling very self-conscience about going back to school. I would be moving to a small city (Keene, TX) and would have to live on campus. At 24 I felt that I was too old for this lifestyle, but understood that it doesn’t matter what the situation looks like the end result was my driving force. I called my mom in tears and told her my feelings and those words flowed out of her mouth like honey. If you’re considering going back to school don’t allow your age or where you are in life hold you back, those are factors that will push you to get it done!
- “Start strong, finish strong” Going back to school wasn’t easy, but it was necessary. I hadn’t sat in a classroom for two years and homework was a dirty word in my life. I was used to going out for happy hour and staying up watching movies with friends and now my life was staying up studying for exams. I told myself to set a pace that I could maintain for that last year and I did just that. My day was planned down to the minute and I stuck to my guns. I couldn’t let anything distract me from what was ahead and knew that my focus couldn’t be shifted.
- “What do you have to lose?” With there being so many methods of learning it is almost impossible to not attend school. From online universities to programs structured around the working adult, there is no excuse for not getting that piece of paper! I can hear someone asking “But what about the money?” There are plenty of scholarships available to non-traditional students and the federal funding amount has increased over the years. You aren’t in a race with anyone so taking two classes per semester will still get you to your goal. Plan a tuition budget and find a school that fits into that plan.
- It’s all for you…at the end of the day, the smile on my face was because I finished something for me. I have something that no one can take away from me, something I worked hard for, and something that opens doors that couldn’t open before. Finishing my degree was a marker in my life because I found the strength to not give up on myself. It wasn’t easy, but it was worth it!