Yup! You read that right. I am a college dropout… and I’m proud of it.
Like a lot of high school graduates, I went directly off to college. I entered my freshman year as a biology major with plans to go to dental school and become an orthodontist. After my first semester, I quickly realized that science was not my strong suit, especially biology.
I met with my advisor and we decided that based on my interests/skills, switching over to a business major would be best. At this point, I decided I would major in business administration with a concentration in marketing. I was enrolled in the five-year track which meant, I would complete my bachelor's and master's in one fell swoop.
In addition to my studies, I was also a member of the softball team. In my opinion, this was the best thing for me. I was forced to keep good grades and make good decisions outside of school/softball. Now, this was not always the case, but I maintained a good image throughout my time there. When I started my junior year, I knew I needed to get a job. I started working as a hostess at a local restaurant, up until winter break. Second-semester started and that meant softball was going to be my focus. No time for work. When the end of the semester came, I picked up a job as a server at another local restaurant. I was super excited! I‘d get to work with one of my teammates and some other athletes from school. It was a win-win.
As the summer went on, I came to the realization I needed to work more than I was. I also needed to decide whether I was going to play my final year or pick up more shifts at the restaurant. When it came down to it, the money was just too good to give up. It felt good being able to cover my own bills and do what I wanted with my money. Before I knew it, I was working nearly full-time and still going to school.
I needed a break though. I took a leave of absence halfway through the semester and spent the rest of it in California with my family. When I came back for the second semester, I felt refreshed and ready to go. Or so I thought. I worked more than I did the previous semester, I partied more than I ever had, and made some rather questionable choices in my personal life. After three months of what I would call, wild behavior, I thought I’d slow down and get my shit together. My liver needed some recovery and so did my mind.
The spring semester of 2013 came to a close. I picked up a second job in a tourist town, bartending. I kept most of my shifts at the other restaurant and picked up as many as I could at the new one. Before I knew it, I was working every single day of the week with no days off. This went on until the end of July when I got asked to manage one of my boss' restaurants. I was now making more money than most college grads. I had the opportunity to build up my resume with management experience. Faced with another decision regarding school, I chose to walk away.
I did not return for my fall semester in 2013. I was behind because of my leave of absence and the changing of my major. I was doing well for myself as a single 22-year-old woman and wanted to focus on my work.
I was officially a college dropout.
For six years I worked my ass off. I dedicated every ounce of my life to working. I gained so much experience in that time period. I thought I had enough to go after my "dream job." I applied and got asked to come in for an interview. When I got my rejection email I was informed that while I had all the experience they were looking for, I did not hold a bachelor's degree. 2017... FIVE whole years of professional growth and not once, had I been rejected due to my lack of a degree. This was devastating. I told myself, this will never prevent me from getting a job again. That fall, I applied to return to my alma mater. I was accepted back into my degree program however, it had changed some and therefore, some of my credits no longer applied.
In order to complete my degree in the timeframe I set for myself, I needed to take a full course load for the next year and a half. Four semesters of school work, 40 hours a week. All while working full time as an insurance agent. I graduated in the spring of 2019 with my bachelor's degree in Business Administration with a concentration in Marketing Management. This was such a huge accomplishment for me. I had never worked so hard for something. What I did know was that, without that gap in time from when I dropped out to re-enrolling, I never would have been as successful as I was.
For a long time, I was against kids taking gap years. I think my own fears of not regaining the motivation were coming through in that thought process. Now, I am a huge advocate for gap years or even extended gap years. Take the time to intern or work in fields you take interest in. You may think you want to do one thing when you grow up, and then you learn you either aren't good at it or you absolutely hate it! Interning allows you to try out different things without locking yourself in a specific career.
If you have kids that are entering high school or are a teacher, encourage your kiddos to take their time in making such a huge decision about their future. I wasted a lot of time and money trying to figure my shit out.
This was a long-winded post this week and I have so much more to say about this. I'd be curious to hear what other peoples' education journies looked like! Comment on this blog - I want to get to know my followers!
Let your sun shine ☀️