Generally speaking, people come to college because they want to be here. They seek a higher education because, ideally, a degree helps open doors for these people, which can find them a vocation instead of just a job.
I’ve met students who’ve come here from different countries, against the will of their families, to study subjects they would not be allowed to in their places of origin. I’ve met students returning to school after hardships, seeking a way to cement their own financial security in life in order to be able to provide for their own family.
Meeting so many different people who wanted to be here made me reflect on my reasons for being here. I didn’t want to continue my education following high school. In fact, for many months, I adamantly opposed it.
I hated the thought of college. I despised the idea of continuing to sit in classes, learning about subjects that I didn’t truly care about, attempting to pass tests for an arbitrary grade so that I could have a measure of worth according to someone else’s scale. My idealistic self argued that higher education was going the way of the dodo in favor of vocational training.
Fortunately for me, people much smarter than me convinced me I should attend college. Their arguments stemmed from the idea that, fundamentally, I did not have the personal drive to succeed at learning a marketable skill, unlike my friend who taught himself C++ coding in a week.
If I went to college, I could perhaps find a subject to spark my interest. I believe they hoped I would spontaneously gain the will to make something of myself when I got here.
Lucky for them and for me, I did. I stumbled into personal drive when an academic advisor informed me all the college credit I took in high school really did pay off, despite some less-than-stellar grades.
I could finish an associate’s degree in a semester. I could begin a bachelor’s degree and attend school for free for a year.
That went well for all of one semester, until those less-than-stellar grades bit me in the ass, sunk my cumulative GPA like an anchor, killed my chances for renewing the scholarship and left me wanting for money.
At the end of that year, I had to seriously consider my own life. I could drop out. I didn’t have the money to keep attending, and no feasible way of obtaining it in time for the next semester.
I had the associate’s in hand, and I could fulfill my high school self’s longstanding goal of making little of my life. Important to note in all of this is I had no backup plan. I assumed my life would continue to work itself out if I quit going to school.
Again, smarter people than me convinced me otherwise. They pointed to the work I’d done and argued it would be a waste of time to quit now.
I had to swallow a large deal of pride and ask my parents to help me front the two grand I needed to attend another semester of college, when just a year before I’d argued constantly to them higher education was a waste of my time.
In my parents’ infinite grace, they bailed me out. A friend who noticed I had a knack for grammatical sensibility got me a job at the university’s Writing Center, which helped me pay my parents back. I got another scholarship, which covered half the tuition costs of the next two semesters, and my life got back on track.
When that money ran out, I stood a year away from finishing my bachelor’s degree. I could end strong, a full year before the average time, and another friend who felt I could be trained to edit got me a job at the university’s newspaper. The tuition break that came with the job secured me financially for my last year.
Now, I’m a month and a half into my last semester at Weber State University, except I’ve decided to seek a master’s degree here as well.
This has caused arguments in my family, who’ve pointed out they had to fight to get me to come here in the first place because to them, I’m still the person who adamantly opposed higher education.
If I could introduce them to the inspiring students I have met, to the professors who have encouraged me that this might just be the thing I’m supposed to be doing, I would. It might help convince them like it convinced me.
Most people come to college because they want to be here, but I certainly didn’t. It took very many very smart people yelling at me to change my mind, but I’m certainly glad they did. I suppose the moral of the story is always listen to loud, smart people.