4 Tough Lessons I Learned When I Returned To College


I was a brilliant high school student so naturally the assumption was I would further my education and be as brilliant a student in college. The first year was easy; the second, not so much. It become apparent during sophomore year that I had no life plan, no career goals. I switched majors more than a few times and tried to straighten myself out but couldn’t. I was adrift.

Knowing I was wasting my time and money on something I wasn’t ready for, I made the choice to leave college. I never intended to return. I continued to drift through menial jobs and volunteer work whilst planning for my future. The plans didn’t stick, the money always ran out and the despair in the pit of my stomach sat heavy like a stone.

It was only after years of this sort of existence that I formulated a career path and researched companies I wanted to work for. I knew I needed at least a bachelors, so I applied to my former college and was amazed when I was accepted two months before school was to begin. There I was, short on cash and crunched for time. My options were limited (very) and in returning to school I figured out some things I had never considered before:

1. Loans Are Hard To Get

Frankly, I thought it was going to be easy to get a school loan. Nearly every student I’d met had taken out a loan. However, they had cosigners -I didn’t. Even with my nearly perfect credit score, I was unable to get a loan without a cosigner. No one was willing to cosign and I totally understood why, but it brought forth another issue….

2. All Bridges Burn In Time

I was lucky the first time around as a student. I had money from FASFA, scholarships and my parents and I am ashamed that I took it all for granted. I was reluctant to bring up the subject of cosigning with my father as he was already past the point in his life where he was able to help me. He had no obligation to give me aid and looking back, I wished I had never asked for it. He didn’t want to cosign, point-blank-period. I was relieved. It would have been too big a burden for both of us. But my resources were nearly depleted; I had no access to loans, or scholarships or FASFA. Those bridges had long since burned down and there was no way of getting them back.

3. College Is A Bureaucracy And A Business

Oh, the extensive, expensive and complicated paperwork; the never ending emails letting me know about that one “final” thing I must do in order to attend college; the inflated tuition cost and additional fees crammed in here and there; the brusque, and seemingly practiced, unhelpfulness of university administration. Is this what higher learning had become? It changed so much in such a short time. It saddened me to see the current state of the university system. It was like seeing an old friend become a bitter, shriveled up stone; all the life had been sucked out years ago.

4. Where There Is A Will, There Is A Way

Even though I have had some financial and personal setbacks, I’ve managed to somehow keep myself moving forward. My first college experience was wholly different to what it is now, but of course I am not the same person I was then. I am much stronger, more independent. I am glad I returned to school. Doors that were once closed to me are now open. This time around, I will appreciate college and the opportunities a solid education provides me. This time, I won’t waste my chances.