I have had many people regarding me in a different way lately. As all of my avid blogging readers know, I have been taking a break from college ever since the end of last spring. With taking the summer afterwards off and then moving to North Carolina, it only makes sense for me right now to be taking a break. Only many people see my “break” as me completely giving up on school and any career for the future. Yes, I have a full time job that I make decent money and am able to live comfortably and support myself. Money is always tight, but it is there none-the-less. About a year ago after finishing my Associates Degree I deciding to gain work experience in a full-time job opportunity, without which I would not have the job I have now. That was the path I chose, which limited my schooling to part-time. One semester in University changed my entire outlook on my future. Just one. Having a full-time job in a career that I didn’t want to progress in didn’t help that matter either.
Now, I am not saying that everyone needs to take a break or take it slow, some people want to get everything done and jump into the “real world” head first….well let me just tell you it’s not all what it’s made up to be. There are so many factors that a lot of college graduates do not take into account. This list is in no way beneficial to all parties and I am sure some people will disagree with me, that is fine, this is my blog not yours. :p
1. Money. Oh money, where would we be without you…yes in a cardboard box. On average a college student going into school full-time will spend at least 15k a year, that’s not even including living on campus. Fun fact: I never lived on campus. College costs so much money for students, not to mention they always offer you so many scholarship opportunities that are so hard to even get. They forget to mention the fact that the most scholarships awarded are those to High School graduates who are first coming in. What about the rest of us?! We get student loans, that can take 20 plus years to pay off. I have finally-after 4 years- accepted the fact that I will have debt to pay off. I would say the best thing is to get scholarships, but as I said they are not easy to come by. But the best route is to take 1 or 2 classes at a time and pay out of pocket. Yes, to some that sounds like a LONG time in order to finish a degree, but let’s be real here, at least you won’t have all of the debt like everyone else.
2. Work Experience. If you take your time to finish a degree and pay out of pocket, that gives you the opportunities to actually have a full-time job, get to experience the work force head on. It gives you not only an idea of what the rest of your life will be like, but hands on experience that you can add to that blank resume. What many college graduates do not realize is that big corporations and companies nowadays are looking for that experience. Basically, that part-time job you had doesn’t even come into play anymore, so whether it’s retail or the food industry, just forget you ever had those jobs now. It’s all fine and dandy if you have a connection or two, that ALWAYS helps, but you need to be able to hold your own. In college they don’t teach you the real-life programs and systems that you need to apply for that job you are getting a degree for. Not to mention the ethics that come with working for big companies, those ethics can either get you fired or promoted.
3. Find Yourself. For me this is the biggest reason to take your time, because if you are like me you have been going back and forth on a career path since your first semester of college. I cannot tell you how many times I have changed my declared major, which constantly changed which classes I needed to take. I am glad that I went to Community College first, it gave me two years to get my general education done, but also take random elective classes in the process in order for me to play around with what I wanted to do. Granted, after completing my AA Degree I thought I knew what I wanted until I actually started the classes for that chosen major at University. It wasn’t what I wanted AT ALL. With this break I have been able to reflect on myself more, do my research, discover my full potential and finally come to a conclusion with what I want to do for a career. I couldn’t have done that if I was still rushing to get a degree completed.
4. No Stress. College is STRESSFUL, for everyone. Do not try and deny it, you would only be lying to yourself. I have had too many anxiety attacks to even count because of college. Whether it was being overwhelmed with two or more exams in one day, or multiple projects all having the same due dates; it’s stressing me out now just reflecting back on it all. Not only was the workload stressful, paying for books, tuition, food, any bills, lab fees, all of these necessary things attached to school can cause stress. Especially at the beginning and end of a semester, even during the semester just trying to calculate and prepare and make sure that you have enough money in your loans to get you through the semester. Budgeting your life is stressful, on top of trying to make the grades and attending your classes each day.
5. Take Care of Yourself. Yes, this is different than reason number 3, for the fact that you actually have time to maintain a healthy lifestyle if you take your time. The freshman fifteen is no joke people. It’s a lot different if you are like me and never lived on campus, but for those that do, it is constant partying and campus food, which is mostly fast-food. You are always on the go in college, it feels like you never have time to yourself. Maintaining your grades on top of having a social life is hard enough, add in going to the gym or working out in your free time, well that’s near impossible. Eating healthy is even harder when you have the campus food, then all of the fast-food places on campus right at your disposal, it’s just a beacon light to gaining the extra pounds. Then add in drinking, your body is just taking in the extra sugars, yeast, and empty calories. When you are only taking one or two classes at a time, you have that extra hour or so in the day to be able to work out, the money to join a gym if you like, and on top of that you can actually control what you put in your body for food. Better to start a healthy lifestyle while you are young so it becomes a habit as you get older and the pounds are harder to shed.
6. Maintain the Grades. Taking classes full-time can be not only stressful, but plain hard. Taking a full load of classes is difficult not only for time management purposes, but for maintaining your GPA. A college GPA is much harder to maintain, especially if you decide to take the hardest four classes possible each semester, which I made the mistake of doing my first semester. Talk about landing on the probation list your first semester, it is not fun for anyone. Getting that GPA brought back up is one of the hardest things I ever experienced. Which is my next point with taking your time to finish up college, because when you are only take one or two classes, it is much easier to get an “A” in either class than if you were taking four classes. At least you can balance two classes, take one easy and one hard class to even it out. You may think I am crazy, that getting a passing grade is sufficient enough, well trust me it’s not. If you want to get into grad school or further your education even more, that GPA comes into account. Even getting a job in the career of your dreams, they look at that final GPA and sometimes even your transcripts. I don’t know about you, but if my degree was in Business and my grades were all straight C’s throughout those main courses, I would not be the first choice for a job.
7. Tuition Reimbursement. Sounds fantastic doesn’t it?!? Another benefit to taking your time towards that degree! What a lot of people don’t realize is that in any given career path that company will actually PAY for YOU to GO to school! Crazy right?! Not crazy at all actually, because when it comes down to it the job I have right now requires me to have a Bachelor’s Degree, which I do not have at all right now. But my company will pay for me to go back to school, granted all company stipulations are different, and in my case I am not pursuing a degree for what they offer reimbursement for. Mostly all companies have scholarships they offer strictly to employees as well! When you have that opportunity to actually get into the work force before degree completion, you could be saving yourself tens of thousands of dollars in the long run. Big companies encourage you to further your education and therefore give you as many resources as possible in order to do so. Don’t believe me? Just look up the companies you want to work for and then the benefits/furthering education opportunities. You will be surprised at all of the hidden opportunities that are offered.
8. Gain Real-Life Knowledge. Being in college is almost like a dream, it’s own little society with it’s own population. Students often think being out of their parents house and making their own schedules makes them a grownup. Reality check, it doesn’t. This is mainly for the newbies out there who are just starting, the freshmen and the sophomores. I was the same way, I can admit that. At some point we all are, but when you move out everything changes. You have bills of your own to pay, things you never even thought of paying for come into play, and where do you think the money comes from to pay for all of this? You. Nowadays so many students still depend on their parents throughout their entire college life, which I just find ridiculous. Money does not just drop out of the sky, it has to be made and earned somehow. It’s how the world works. Now that you are in college, it does NOT mean you are in the real world. You are in your own world with a bunch of other self-entitled students getting their education, because as soon as you graduate and are off of the campus, that is reality. So take your time, learn to take care of yourself and be responsible. Mommy and daddy will NOT be there to save you all the time. Getting on your feet is one of the hardest things to do outside of college. I am still learning about different things!
9. Develop Relationships. This may sound like an odd item for taking your time through college, and a lot of you may think it’s a dumb reason. But the college scene can get quite messy, with people running around all the time and making friends here and there through classes, campus clubs, and bars. That is all fine and dandy, but those friendships often times end with that class or outing. When you are actually outside of school, not constantly in class you will often times explore, go outside your comfort zone and randomly come across someone that may change your whole life. Many people do meet the person they marry or become best friends with in college, which is awesome! Truthfully, since I started taking my time with school, my relationships with people have gotten a lot stronger. My family and I are closer than ever, I have stayed close with my old friends even being far apart, and have made new friends outside of school that have become truer friendships than someone I met in class. When you are not constantly on campus or in classes, you have time to go deeper into friendships and relationships, to actually KNOW a person. It is not just a fling or a random conversation, it is more meaningful to experience.
10. Develop A Sense of Responsibility. I realize this may sound like an older person giving advice to a bunch of young people, but in all reality I am 21 years old. I have gone to my fair share of college parties, clubs, been involved with underage drinking, the whole nine yards. That is what college is all about, but there is a certain limit. Living on my own, having a full-time job, having random drug tests in the office, having bills to pay, it sounds terrible when put that way and for some of you that isn’t what you want. You want the all-out college experience, which I can understand. But developing a sense of responsibility is NOT a bad thing whatsoever! Being in college full time, you develop the responsibilities of going to class (sometimes), getting good grades, doing your homework, and preparing for the next semester. But being in school part-time or taking a break, you not only have all of those responsibilities, but taking care of yourself, learning to take what life throws at you and surviving, feeling accomplished for being able to sustain yourself and the lifestyle that you choose. That feeling is fulfilling, and not only are you able to be responsible, but you can appreciate the life you live on a more substantial basis. Developing that sense of responsibility can save lives nowadays, with all of the drunk driving incidents and constantly being attached to our phones. Let me tell you, a DUI can ruin your opportunities faster than running zigzag from an alligator.