College has not been an easy road for me. Graduated high school in 1992 and haven't been back to school until 2009. That is a 17 years away from school. I always heard the statistics of not finishing college the longer you wait after graduating high school are worse, meaning the odds are against you the longer you wait to go to school. My dream has always been to be a lawyer. I am determined for myself and my family to be a successful college graduate. I want to set a good example and be a good role model for my children also, that is so important to me. I may be one of the oldest students in my class but thats ok. Someday when I walk across the stage to accept my college degree that will be the greatest day of my life! I have taken so much from my college experiences and my professors who have done nothing but encourage me every step of the way. I enjoy college very much and the learning experiences and people I have met along the way from the college staff to my online classmates has been invaluable.
As a senior, I thought college would what the media portrays: classes would be easy to manage and my roommate would be my best friend. Classes were something I could manage, but I wasn't used to having to put this much effort into a grade. I had to work to maintain my grade. Also, I thought that living in the dorms wouldn't be that bad, that my roommate and I wouldn't have major problems, and resident life would be easy. I never imagined I would come to move in with a stranger whose lifestyle was completely different than mine. I never would have thought I would have to clean up after someone else, or I would not get along with them. I wish that I could go back and tell my high school self that I can handle the courses, but to put a strong effort in. I would tell myself that sometimes issues don't get resolved and I will have to move. I would tell myself that college will be an amazing experiance, but there will be some trials along the way. College is a journey, and sometimes the journey will be hard.
I would place my experienced hand upon his wiry shoulder and look into his naïve expression and I would sincerely say, “Don’t wait. Don’t do things the way I did. Don’t struggle through life for eight years and let hitting rock bottom be your inspiration for going back to college. You don’t regret how you lived your life, but you will wish you did it in a different order.” I would then turn my freshly enlightened self toward the office and tell him, “You get your butt down there and talk with the councilor. Don’t wait for someone to tell you what to do. Be proactive. Do it now so you don’t end up with all of my responsibilities; balancing full-time employment with full-time education with full-time fatherhood. College life isn’t all that hard, it just takes true dedication, you are responsible for your own actions, and no one else is going to do it for you.” With that, I would kick myself in the behind, sending me on my way, calling out, “Oh yeah! When you’re 22, don’t eat the soup at Jerry’s house!”
If I could go back in time and talk to myself, my number one issue would be to share information about financial aid. I was completely unaware of where to even start in regards to affording college when I graduated high school; and as no one in my family had gone to college before me, I had little in the way of guidance. There are so many options to pay for school that I wish I had known earlier. I am now 25, married, with two children, going back to school; and although I feel that I appreciate what I learn more now, I wish that I could have gone to college right out of high school. A second bit of advice would be to ask for help and do not get overwhelmed with the paper work, it is not as scary as it seems. Especially in regards to the mountains of paperwork that inevitably come with financial aid. As far as the academic or social aspects, I have not had any problems and would therefore just say "Be yourself, be courteous and respectful, and make sure you READ all of your homework"!
Knowing what I know now about college life and making the transition, I would give myself the same advice that I have given my 20-year old daughter. I encourage her to finish school and enjoy life without taking on other peoples burdens that are not traveling in the same direction as she. Before attaching yourself to someone for life, at an early age, finish your college. Life is short, and you may want to have a better career one day, so take time to enjoy all of your free time, while you are alone. Learn to love you, and I encourage her to take subjects that will give her the best bang for the buck, and try to visualize yourself doing that job or career choice for 365 days of the year. Knowing what I know now, has given me an edge on life, and I feel that I am able to counsel, and learn from others without feeling silly in the process. Learning is a valuable asset, and when you have the freedom learn without interruption, it is truly a blessing. It is a time in my life to focus and reflect .
If I could go back in time and change my college life, I would have completed through with a PhD and focused my career in healthcare management or research. As a woman working full time and supporting my family, I wish I had understood the value in completing my education earlier in life. I finished my Associate's Degree in Nursing at the age of 19 and had planned to start the RN to BSN program within a year after graduation. Two and a half years ago, in my late 40s I finally returned to school to obtain my degree in Project Management. In less than 9 weeks I will complete this degree and plan to return for my Master's in the fall/winter of this year. My goal is to obtain a MS in Leadership and work my way up to an executive level position either within the organization I am currently employed with or explore new opportunities. As an adult learner, I do see some advantages for the ability to add real-life applicaation for what I am learning and value this more today than I did 30 years ago.
I have often thought about the college related choices I made while I was in high school. And I usually end up thinking about how I would do things differently or I wish I had someone to guide me better in my decisions. I have been out of high school for almost four years and if given the opportunity would fly back in time and help myself. I would go back and tell myself, "Catrina, don't choose the private university, choose the public university that won't cost so much but will still give you the great education you are looking for. Better yet, start at a community college first. It will save money in the long run and you still get a great college experience." In high school I had a teacher that told me, "Don't worry about the cost right now. Don't let that be a determining factor in which school you choose." I would go back in time and tell myself not to listen to that teacher. You can get a good education at any kind of college as long as you do your research and it doesn't have to cost alot.
If I were to give myself advice, I would definitely say work hard in high school. You don't necessarily need a 4.0 grade point average, but take classes that will help in college and your career path. I would also say that if a high school guidence counselor tells you that you are not college material, get a different counselor. I put myself down all the time because I believed what I was told. Once I got to college I worked hard to prove them wrong, however if I had just applied myself in high school it may have been an easier road. I would also get myself a great tutor for math, and get all my math courses out of the way early in my college career. I had teachers that simply intimidated me in math. I should never had let that happen, but now I struggle with the fear that my GPA will be ruined when I take my last math class. I would have done way more to understand it early on, now I am scrambling to learn it, before I need to take the class in May. I would have done many things differently.
My advice that I would give myself if I had the ability to communicate with myself in the past would be to mentally prepare for the massive influx of new people I'm going to meet. Although I already had friends in high school, I needed to find ways in order to keep those relationships still alive while meeting new people and creating a new social network. The best thing to do about this is to try to find people who have similar interests as you while also trying to meet people who are very different from you. No one in the world is going to be an exact match to your every interest so it is good to keep an open mind and a willingness to try new things. I would recommend trying to find a few friends to meet over the summer through something like facebook or the school's website just so you have a few familar faces when you first get there. Gradually you were find your place in your chosen university but patience and acceptance are two things that will make the transition all the more easier.
My college expereince started out a little rough. I went to a local college for a year and a half. While in that college, I was placed in remedial classes which I did not need. The classes just made me feel that I wasn't getting anything accomplished. My college academic career was going no where, so I dropped out. I took time off to work and figure out what to do with my life. After working for a few years as a daycare teacher. Although it's a fulfilling job, it doesn't pay very good at all. I made the decision to go back to school and my best option was online. I chose Ashford University because it had the major I wanted and also it is accredited and top rated. I love school now. I really feel like I'm accomplishing something. I have a very strong GPA (3.7) and I feel great about all of my classes. My new obstacle is money so I am applying for any scholarship I'm eligible for to make it possible for me to continue. Overall< Ashford has gievn me a brand new outlook on attending college.