My Atypical College Experience
It’s no secret. I hate college. I hate college for so many reasons, but I’m not here to go into depth about why our system is broken and sucks. I’ll save that for another time, but I am here to talk about my atypical college experience.
I started taking college courses in the fall of 2018, and I was only there for one semester, before two things happened. One, I got super duper sick. Two, I became extremely overwhelmed, because I had zero idea what I wanted to do, and I was frustrated that the University was putting pressure on me to pick a career path. I DIDN’T KNOW WHAT I WANTED TO DO FOR THE REST OF MY LIFE.
Back to the sick part. I didn’t spend months in the hospital, or anything like that, but I did miss about 6 weeks of classes, couldn’t stay awake, doctors couldn’t figure out what was wrong with me, and I did end up in the ER one night. Doctor’s notes are only so much help, until you’re 6 weeks behind in work, and you have to take your finals. Shocker, I failed all of my classes except for ice skating, lol.
After the lack of support I had from my teachers and advisors, I had no desire to go back. So, I didn’t. I went home for Christmas, got my health back in order, which magically disappeared as soon as I stopped stressing about school, and then I moved to Park City, Utah, to live with my brother. We lived in a studio together for about 6 months, while I worked at a boutique on Main Street.
I quickly realized that I would make a lot more money as a nanny, so I started working for a family that had two boys, averaging around 25 hours/week. This was exactly what I needed in that moment to help motivate me for my future. I was making good money for being 18 years old. I was having fun with my life. I moved into my first apartment that I was paying for. I was a nanny for about 6 months, and then I was hired at a real estate office in town to be their receptionist, just around the time of my 19th birthday. I absolutely loved this job. Was it my long-term dream job? No, but I met so many great people that I still think about now, over a year later. Silly me, decided to go back to school, though.
I guess I shouldn’t say silly me. I'm glad I went back to school, mainly for the sake of never wondering, “what if?” BUT I also was given more clarity about the college system. When I decided to go back to school, it was in the middle of the pandemic, which was fine since I still needed to work quite a bit to pay my bills. I signed up for online courses through a community college, and was STILL appalled by how obvious it was that they cared more about money than my career. I have to stop to say, I did love my online teachers. They were wonderful and were pretty understanding about the whole online school situation, but the advisors and the people who were supposed to be helping me receive financial aid totally dropped the ball, and basically told me I would have to pay for my courses, even though I received financial aid, because they didn’t have time to get to my application….because someone went on vacation. I’m sorry. What?
Okay, I’m getting a little side tracked. So, once again, I was overwhelmed because I wasn’t sure if I wanted to torture myself for 3+ years trying to go to school full-time, while also trying to start a new job, so I could pay my bills. During this time, I took on a job as a real estate assistant for some of the top realtors in Park City. Talk about a lot of pressure, and by the end of the semester, my mental and physical health was not even close to a priority of mine anymore. That was enough for me to pack my bags, head to my hometown in California for a bit, and work on myself. Bye.
A family friend found out I was moving home for a bit and called me with a job offer before I even packed my car up. Similar to before, I was going to work as a real estate assistant, but this time for a broker who ran a small brokerage, very different from an international brokerage before. It was a challenge to say the least. I was contemplating how long I would stay in my hometown when my boss made the tough decision to close the brokerage, due to personal reasons. That was my sign, so again, I packed my bags and drove my little two-door Jeep Wrangler back out to Utah.
Now, I’m not sure what everyone else expects from my wide array of jobs, but you’d probably be a little surprised to hear as soon as I got back, I took a job as a server at a local cafe. I think it’s funny how family friends ask what I’m up to since I moved back, and they always say, “oh you’re a server now? So you’re taking classes again?” Haha, no. People definitely underestimate how hard being a server can be, and let me tell you, it has been the hardest, yet most rewarding job ever. I love it. No, I don’t want to do it forever, but I love my life right now. I get to build my website on my off days, and spend time with my friends, and travel when I want to.
I know it’s taking me a really long time to get to my point. Basically, what I'm trying to say is if you are putting unnecessary stress on yourself because of your long-term career, I’m telling you, it’s okay to take a step back. One of my best friends I met during my first semester, just recently graduated from college, and still has no idea what she wants to do with her life…I know you’re reading this…hi, love you…but that’s the reality of so many people in their twenties right now. Let me put it this way. She has a degree and has no clue what she’s doing. I do not have a degree, but I have so much experience from jobs and just being in the real world, I probably wouldn’t have learned in college, and I also don’t know what I’m doing.
So, take your pick. I’m not saying college is pointless. I think there are great things that can come out of it, but for me, it just wasn't the healthy option. Give yourself the option to step back and truly decide what will be best for you if you feel lost. With that being said, if you do decide to step back, do your best not to beat yourself up during the process. Enjoy it! You’re doing what you’re meant to do, and that’s a good thing.