Three-Time College Dropout
Education has always been an important part of my life and I think it always will be. I have always loved to learn, to understand the world around me and explore why it is the way it is. I think that a lot of people would agree with me on that; that they love to grow, to learn, to delve into topics their passionate about. For many, college is the place to appease this desire, to know more while training for a career in a field their interested in. It’s the next logical option for a lot of people, but it’s not the only option. People often get these two confused; they seem to think that if they want to continue to be educated, to learn, they must go to college and that there isn’t another way. We forget that college is only one option not the option but I don’t blame them for thinking this. It’s not entirely their faults, they’ve been told this exact same thing even before they really knew what college was. Told constantly that without a good education they won’t succeed in life. Of course, as children they ate this up as the only truth and they were right to do so.
It is true that without being educated you will have a mediocre life but that doesn’t mean the education has to come from an institution. You can be your own teacher, but those who follow this path are typically looked down upon. They are seen as breaking the social norm of what our culture expects us to follow.
People get angry at those who deviate from what we are used to and that’s why many college dropouts are met with aggression and anger from their loved ones. They think that without a degree there is no future for them and they are terrified that their loved one is willing throwing their life away. They don’t see that what they are really doing is moving towards their future rather than away from it. My own family did not understand my decision to drop out of college and got more and more confused the more I did it. I have finally decided that school just might not be for me. But, even though my family did not like this decision I knew it was the right choice for me. Here is how I came to this conclusion.
I don’t think it was due to a lack of trying that resulted in me being a three time college dropout. Rather a lack of understanding my own needs at any given point in my life. I saw the signs from the get go, I really did, but I let the fear of making the wrong choices control the decisions I made. Leading me to be consistently unhappy in the life I had begun to craft for myself.
I have always been this way though, unsure of what I want and letting others opinions and beliefs become my own. It was easier than having to decide things for myself and figure out what I wanted to do or be. That’s why when I was a child I listened so completely to teachers when they said that if you don’t go to college you’ll end up with a bad life something I obviously didn’t want. So I grew up with this idea bestowed onto me that I had to get into a good college, so I could have a good life otherwise my existence wouldn’t be worthwhile. I became obsessed with getting good grades and panicking about marks, tests etc. even when I was as young as 10 years old. Becoming frantic if I got a D or full on sobbing if I didn’t pass a test, thinking in my dramatic state that I was going to fail in life If I wasn’t perfect. This caused me so much stress fuelled by this idea ingrained into my head by well meaning adults. Fast forward a few years to me in my senior year of high school, knowing full well that I would be attending college but not knowing for what. I knew at that point that I loved to write and wanted to be an author on the side but I thought I couldn’t do this for my main source of income. So with the encouragement of finding a lucrative career I decided to go into Global Studies. I got into the program and picked a school and was a month and a half away from starting when I realized just how unhappy the idea of starting this program was making me. I was a little shocked but eventually saw that I had been feeling this way for a while but had just been avoiding it. So, I took a deep breath and told my family I’d be taking a year off to figure out what I wanted to do. They were completely behind my decision which was very fortunate for me and I took that year to work. I reapplied to an English Literature BA program and thought that I’d finally figured out what I wanted.
I quickly realized that was not the case; in fact I was shocked that by the end of the second week I was already unhappy. It wasn’t the program, or lack of friends, honestly I met some lovely people in there. No, it was me and I didn’t know what was wrong that was making me question staying in the program I just started. I found out eventually that I had again fallen victim to my own need to impress the people around me. Of course, I didn’t admit that something was really wrong and put it off as beginning of the school year nerves. I pushed aside and went to my classes, made more friends, hung out with my roommate, visited my family and I honestly enjoyed my experience. Even the classes were pretty interesting and I thought everything was going fine. I ignored the little voice inside my head that kept telling me something was off. I continued to play ignorant till just around exams and I found myself staying up late at night researching creative writing certificates and the works trying to solve the mess in my head. I eventually came to the conclusion that I did not want to continue my education in this area and planned to just drop out without going back. When I told my sister about it she convinced me to do a journalism diploma program cause then I would be more likely to get a job. I didn’t really want to, but chose to take her word and applied to the journalism program at a couple of colleges. When I told my parents they were livid; they had just wasted 4,000 dollars on a degree I wasn’t even completing and both of them rarely spoke to me in the months that followed. They were disappointed and it was one of the worst experiences of my life, it made me ashamed but I knew I’d again made the right choice. I took this time to work again and accepted an offer to go to my local college for Journalism. Again, convinced I had finally worked everything out.
But, alas I was wrong again because this decision wasn’t made for me, it was made for everybody else’s peace of mind. I paid tuition, bought my textbooks and headed into my first class last Monday morning and a sinking feeling washed over me. As the class progressed, I knew in my gut that this was not right; that I had again made the wrong choice. I dropped out two days later; you might think I’m being rash and maybe I am. But, I know from trying and failing these previous two times that this is right just terrifying. I told my parents over the weekend with a powerpoint presentation ready to show them that this was the right option for me. The disappointment hasn't left them yet and it honestly is terrible to behold but I know that finally I am taking the right path.
To conclude, I have dropped out more then I guess is normal and it’s true that I have dropped out an absurd amount of times. But, I need to emphasize this, I didn’t drop out without a plan. Each time I had some sort of idea of what I was going to do next whether that be working or going back to school for something else. Even now, I do have a plan of what I want to do; I’m not just blindly taking a leap of faith, I’m doing so with my eyes open. I am starting online classes at a college in creative writing to strengthen my skills, doing freelance writing for a website and volunteer articles for other sites and doing an internship at a magazine. All while working pretty much full time at my part time job. In writing it’s important to have experience and that’s what I’m working towards.
It’s so important to know where you want to go and how you can get there but remember to do it for yourself. If I had listened to what I wanted to do I would have gained experience and even potentially a job by now but It took me all this trial and error to realize the actual path I wanted to take. College isn’t for everyone but as long as you work hard for what you want you can achieve anything you put your mind to; with or without a degree.
© 2018 Jessica Matos