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College for Nontraditional Students

Updated on October 20, 2013

Why not?

I never thought I would get to go to college. I wanted to while I was in high school, but I decided it was too scary and got married instead. After a few years, I found a career in dog grooming, and started believing that I would never need to go to college.

Now, I feel like a hypocrite. I can justify my actions, but it still hurts to go against ten years of ranting that "you don't need college and expensive education to make it in life". I am a big believer in the idea that you can go really far with just on-the-job-training. I believed this because I did it. I was a high school graduate that thought about college, but chickened out and got married right out of school instead. I floundered around for about two years with higher than minimum wage jobs before I trained (on the job, paid training) to be a dog groomer. Within three years, I was making much, much more than "educated" vet techs with big school loans. The economy was good and there was lots of work with no end in sight. Two years in a row I raked in nearly 50 grand. I have now been a dog groomer for almost twelve years, and the economy has almost crushed me in the last eighteen months. I can't make money if my clients have nothing to spend. Aside from money problems, I am bored. I could probably groom dogs in my sleep. I often dream about grooming/work, and not in a good way. On top of all that, my life experiences with my oldest son has sparked a need for knowledge of the "system". The social services system that is.

So, to make a long story short, I have decided to go back to school!

So how does a busy mom, wife, business owner, and otherwise heavily scheduled person, go about attending college? That was my question too. The answer is simple. On-line of course! I signed up for University of Phoenix's online Human Services Management program. It was probably the easiest thing I have ever done. I called; they helped me apply for financial aid and student loans. They scheduled my courses, walked me through their website, and Wha-la! I was in school the following Monday! They made it so easy to get started I wished I had discovered on-line school years ago!

Earlier this year I walked into the junior college in my area and tried to figure out what to do, and how to go about taking some classes. I walked out an hour later, thoroughly frustrated, with no answers, and even more disillusioned than when I went in. The junior college was like a jungle of young people, their nerves and stress palpable, while the paid chimps behind the counters were speaking jibberish and telling me about the different lines and the waiting and taking your turn and deadlines and yada, yada, yada. I hate the position of the "front man" for organizations like this. They have no power. They always pass the responsibility for your issue to the next guy. "No, I can't help you", they say, "you have to go to window three million to solve that issue, and don't forget to stop at every window along the way or you will be disqualified and have to start over." I don't want your one-size-fits-all answer; I want respect! Now I know I am blowing this a little out of proportion, but I am a type A personality. If you won't help me, get the hell out of my way, so I can get the answers I need and attend to the important things in my day.

I remember this one particular incident that illustrates my point. When my brother and I were kids there was one time when we wanted some ketchup for our burgers that we had ordered and we had just sat down to eat. My brother went to get the ketchup and hadn't come back after several minutes. I, being very frustrated with not being able to eat my burger yet, ran up to the front to see what was the problem. Low and behold, he is standing in line! To get ketchup! I thought that was rediculous of course and walked boldly up to the counter and said very loudly to the server whose back was to me, "Hey, I would like some ketchup please!" She turned around, grabbed my prize, and put it in my impatient little fist. I smiled a devilish smile at my brother, still standing in line behind two other patrons, and joyfully ran back to our table to eat. Do you know that he actually stood in that line and waited to get his own ketchup! Incredible. This is definitely a testament to different personality characteristics.

To this day we are opposites in just about everything. But now, we will have college in common. He has already graduated with a BA and is currently getting his Master's. My other, younger brother who is a lot like me, or at least the middle ground between myself and my first brother, is feeling left out. He looked at me like I was a traitor. Going to college, hmmph! (I had sold him years ago on the idea that there was no need for college). So, I had to suck up my pride and apologize for my act of hypocrisy. I told him that life changes, my needs had changed, hell, even the world around us had changed. It is time for a change, and I am changing. Funny, how in your 20's you think you've got life fairly figured out, only to arrive at 30 something and find out you're now playing a different game than before. Fortunately, I look forward to new challenges, and change in general, thanks to my type A personality.

So, can you guess what I am telling my youngest brother now? Yep. Now I am telling him all about online college and its advantages for busy people like us. You can change your mind too. Whatever the reason you didn't go to school, or you didn't finish your degree, you can do it! Take life by the horns, check out online programs and get to work. In a few years, you'll look back and be proud of yourself; and maybe you'll find a new passion or career too.

Almost there!

It is now the fall semester of 2013 and I have opted to finish my Bachelors degree in Interdisciplinary studies at Liberty University (online) in Lynchburg, Virginia. Having finished my AA in Human Services Management at University of Phoenix, I decided to change my major to business. To avoid having to take another 75 units, the Interdisciplinary Studies degree allows me to combine my two loves, people and business, into one degree that will allow me the flexibility of being a well-rounded person with many talents. I am loving it at Liberty, which is a Christian university, and they have made my experience just as simple as Phoenix. I am now looking forward to graduating this same time next year, and can't wait! I have discovered that I love learning, and I am grateful to online programs that have made higher education possible for me!

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      nkc 7 years ago

      I enjoyed your article. How blessed to know we still have the right to change our mind for the betterment of self.

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      Pam Blackwell 7 years ago

      Ya. Less than two years ago you and I had a conversation about college and you were sooo opposed to the idea. I am so glad for you that you have changed your views (and for your kids). Your expectations for them will change also and they will see the value and will be more likely to persue upper education. I know you will enjoy it, I see you every day as you speak so positively about your classes and how much you are learning. I am so glad for you.

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      Nancy Wallner 7 years ago

      Wow that was an awesome story. I think you really opened a lot of peoples eyes to how easy online schooling truly is. I went for a short time and it was awesome. I did not finish only because of conflicts in my own personal life. But after reading this you truly make me think I need to do this again. Hope you finish with great grades and have a lot of enjoyment through out.