Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Back to School: My experience

I'm back at school! After being out of college for the past year, it was weird adjusting back to the routine, especially since I was starting at a university for the first time. After two years of community college, I had no school debt and an Associate's under my belt. I was ready to transfer, but the finanical aid and cash just wasn't adding up. After applying to my dream school (being accepted, but ultimately not being able to get enough financial aid) I decided to do the intelligent thing. I took a year off of school to work and save money. I worked a lot. There were even a few months that I juggled two jobs: which meant seven days a week and 70 hour work weeks. There were days that I worked for 17 hours between the two jobs, and although I was tired, my eye was consistently on the prize. When I had a good amount of money and the financial aid approval came through, I was elated. I could finally go back to school, one of my favorite places on Earth.
I was starting at a new school, a university, and it worried me. (How much of my cash did I just drop on textbooks?) But I knew that I had earned the right to attend and would make the most of my experience. I loved community college and figured that a university would please me just as much. While I have loved my first three days, one thing has certainly affected my mood (even though it shouldn't.) The students.

I hate to generalize and stereotype, but there are a lot of students that are attending school just to attend school. Just to pass the time. Just because they were told to. So at 18 they were shipped from their homes, with their new comforters and bright white notebooks, to go annoy somebody else. That somebody is me.

I'm not here to brag and gloat and say how hard I've worked and how much better I am than other people, but I did work hard, and I think I have the right to say so. I feel as if I have earned the right to go to college. I think that college is a privilege. It should be a right, but it's just too expensive to be so.

Then, on my first day I was able to hear about my fellow Journalism students' fantastic lazy summers and fancy internships; they didn't have to get jobs. When I sit down in class and hear other students scoffing at the idea of work, or never opening their brand new textbooks, I sort of want to scream. Where is the justice in this system?

It's something that I shouldn't let bother me. I know this. I shouldn't worry about other people, I should focus on myself and making sure that I succeed. But do these well-off slackers really have to be so....obnoxious? It's obvious that we were not all created equal, but I wish it wouldn't be rubbed in so much. But I fully realize that the tables could be turned on me: I'm the one who think she's better than everyone because I was busting my butt.

But I have my parents to thank for that. Sure, when I was 18 and found out I wouldn't be getting any help with college, I wanted to flip. I don't want to go to community college! Why do I have to pay for everything?! I whined a lot about how "unfair" it was that so many of my friends were shipped off to their dream schools without hesitation while I stayed at home, working and attending junior college.

I hate to say this because I know they will see it, but my parents were right. (Don't rub it in too much!) I'd like to think that their decision shaped me as a person. Sure, it's been tough, sure I've been upset, sure I have wanted to give up. But I respect my education, I'm not going to waste it, and I'm sure as heck not wasting my money. I wish that some of my classmates would realize the importance of things like this. Maybe I was spending my time looking for justice, but now I just want to make more of myself.


silverthoughts2 said...

I paid my way through school as well. I only took out one (small) loan, the rest was paid through scholarships, a small trust fund that was set up by my Great Uncle ($1k a year towards college) and the rest out of pocket.

Like you, my parents waited until the tail end of my senior year of high school to tell me that college was my responsibility. I wanted to go away, my parents wanted me to go to the community college (and tried to bribe me with a car). There was a lot of tears and yelling involved (haha) but in the end I decided to go commute to a 4 year college about 30 miles away. At the time (I started 2001), it was very affordable...about the price of a two year college now. I still worked hard. I loved college and it was one of those schools where there were a lot of commuters and non traditional students so a lot of the students were there to learn...not to take up space.

Unfortunately six years out I still haven't found a job for my degree BA in Psych and I'd LOVE to go back to do a different degree but with this crappy economy, I'm happy to afford healthy groceries!

Andy said...

I just wanted to add a different perspective on here. Both my parents came from families that couldn't afford to pay for there college degrees and in fact didn't value a higher education all that much but, both my parents worked their way through school and are now after being first generation college graduates very successful. They vowed that should they be able to afford it when the time came they would pay for their children to go to college. The rule was, 4 years in state tuition, anything else was on us and any credits earned with a 'c' or below was our bill as well. I do not believe that this has made me selfish or arrogant- I have worked all 4 years thus far, earned scholarship money which my parents ruled they would put an equal amount into saving for post grad use. I have worked my ass off to keep my GPA high and am thankful beyond belief for my parents support. Keeping up with there expectations has made me work in my opinion just as hard as anyone.

$|<@77€®|\/|1|\||)€|) said...

great post, I told you that if you worked hard and kept your end goal in mind that it would pay off, and yes it is hard because there are going to be the people out there that get served whatever they want, but you know how hard you worked to achieve it and that is what matters. I am so proud of you Jess, way more than I can show. Good job!


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