My Untraditional College Experience
I’m writing about this for many reasons. One is that I feel like I had a different college experience than most of my friends. Another reason is that I think high school graduates feel the pressure to attend a university straight after graduation. Looking back now, it was definitely that way for me. Senior year, was all about college visits, meetings with counselors and weekly visits from college representatives.
I never felt the pressure to attend college, but I knew that I would go. Unlike some people who have somewhat of an idea as to what their degree would be, I did not. Somehow I decided to get a Legal Studies degree. It seemed like something I would enjoy at the time. However, my biggest mistake was starting core courses my Freshman year.
Instead of sticking to gen ed courses, and figuring out what degree to pursue I jumped head first. I changed my degree six times, SIX. It went like this: Legal Studies, Health Information Technology, Human Services, Nursing, Education and now it’s Organizational Leadership. Wasting so much time on those core classes each semester, and not sticking to them. It was frustrating, to say the least.
The determining factor for changing my major the first time was that it wasn’t challenging enough for me. Freshman year I was lucky to find a job at a law firm, which I worked at for 2 years, but quickly realized I was learning more working than in class. As much as I loved the job, it wasn’t something I wanted to be set with.
After this realization, I started feeling like I was wasting so much time on campus taking classes that were meaningless to me. It wasn’t until after my Sophomore year that I decided to enroll in Virtual college. When I started, I had declared myself an Education major. The ability to take classes online allowed me to work full-time, and again I learned so much from my job- this time as a leasing consultant.
After two semesters of taking Education courses, in my heart I knew – again, this wasn’t my path. I became incredibly discouraged with myself, all throughout college. Why couldn’t I find my niche? It’s upsetting, and can really tear you apart. But why? We have this mindset that the degree we obtain will be our ticket to our forever career.
Soon I realized how this wasn’t true. A degree is a foundation on which you can use for any career, to be honest. Unless it’s specific to a certain field such as a nurse, doctor, or lawyer. This is what made me decide that a degree in Organizational Leadership would allow me to diversify my education, and allow me to use it as a foundation for a plethora of jobs. I researched the jobs graduates obtained after graduating with an Organizational Leadership degree and many of them landed positions in non-profits, human resources, and many businesses.
Let me be clear though, I still have no idea what ‘career’ to pursue, but I know that it will be okay because I’m doing okay for 21.
Living it up as a College Student – not
Another reason I didn’t live a true traditional college lifestyle is that for one I didn’t attend on-campus courses. The first year, somehow I ended up joining a sorority. Never did I think that I would do that, but I did and no I don’t regret it. Unfortunately my Sophomore year our charter was revoked, something that we didn’t know was already in the books for us.
Incredibly, I met some of my best friends from the sorority. Two of them were in my wedding. While being in the sorority and balancing school and a job, Kyle and I were really starting a life together. We got a dog together and moved into our first apartment. It was difficult managing three different worlds.
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I always mention that I’m an ‘old soul’ because although I attended college parties, and events I never truly enjoyed it. They didn’t bring me joy and I rather stay in most nights, and that’s just who I am. But I attended those parties and events, in hopes that I would start to enjoy myself. Mostly though, because I wanted to feel apart of something and included. Really live a true college lifestyle.
It was hard because I kept telling myself you’re only young once, and college will be the best years of your life. However, it’s not true. I don’t regret transferring to a virtual school at all, I was still able to connect with friends but I also was satisfied having a balanced life.
What I am saying is, the ‘college lifestyle’ was not for me, and it is for others and that’s totally okay. That’s why I always consider myself ‘not so traditional’.
Seek a job in the field you’re interested in, to see if you’d enjoy it
Diversify yourself and shoot for a versatile degree that would allow you to work in various fields
Reach out to someone who has the degree you’re interested in and ask what their thoughts are
Determine what your ‘dream’ job would be, and get a degree that will help you get there
You will doubt yourself, but don’t ever doubt your worth
Take some time to figure it out, I don’t suggest taking a semester off, but instead, keep taking gen ed or elective courses so you don’t have to worry about those later on
Most importantly: Don’t be hard on yourself if you don’t finish college in four years. It’s not a race. I can promise you that you’re probably doing better than you think.
Lastly, enjoy this great photo of Kyle and I our first day Freshman year.