I didn’t expect to enjoy going back to school. My plan was to take it easy with a few classes. This way I could focus on the classes and not take on too much with a full-time job. The goal being to at least get my Associates degree. I figured it would make the time upstate seem less wasteful and would look better than just a handful of random classes.
I ended up at Borough of Manhattan Community College and took two classes a semester. I paid for most of it myself and was determined to get my money’s worth so I never missed class or slacked off at all. School was nice after working all the time. I started remembering why I had liked school as a kid, I was actually learning new things and moving forward towards a goal. I wasn’t just going through the motions because I had to do it.
Most of my general education credits were done upstate. So most of the classes at BMCC fulfilled my writing and literature major. I got to take classes that really interested me. Like journalism where I had write several stories and they required me doing interviews. While I had done journalism writing in school before I never had to do interview. It made me nervous and the first one I did by email to make it easier but eventually I had to do an in person interview. It wasn’t nearly as bad as I thought it would be. There were some interesting literature classes. And one of my favorites, creative writing. The professor was a bit of a hard ass but he really whipped me into shape. With his help I was able to really improve my editing skills. I was never really good at editing my own writing. He pushed me to get better and I did.
I also got to take a multimedia class. I was glad to have the head start with the html, for the website design. The class went over hand coding before moving into using Dreamweaver. We also created flyers, website banners, and animation using Photoshop and Flash. While I haven’t really mastered designing, a lot what I learned came in handy.
It took several years to get the degree. While I was doing that I moved, changed jobs a couple of times and generally kept myself very busy.
When I was younger I didn’t really plan ahead long term. I did well in school each year to move up to the next grade and eventually go to college, get a degree and a good job. What college that should be and what job it might lead me to wasn’t something I thought too hard about. I imagined and day dreamed about different careers but it seemed so far off that I’d have plenty of time to plan for the future. I was also over confident that everything would just fall into place as they had in the past. I didn’t really put much effort into applying for college. I waited until the last minute to take the SAT’s, didn’t research many schools and didn’t visit any.
I stumbled upon DePaul University as part of a scholarship program I applied for. I wanted to go because of their communications and journalism program. I didn’t get the scholarship and ended up at SUNY Brockport. I was also accepted to Nazareth College but financial aid only covered half the tuition and boarding. I didn’t see anyway I could afford it and didn’t think it really mattered where I went anyway. I went mostly because I felt obligated. I didn’t think I’d learn anything useful, it was just a hurdle to getting a better job later on. My main motivation was to get away from home. I was very independent, wanted to get away and experience different places. I didn’t even look at any schools in New York City. I’m not sure if I would have gone to school right away if I stayed home. I was tired of learning in the classroom and more excited about hands on experience.
I admit part of me was trying to run away from a life that I was unhappy with. I thought maybe leaving home would change how I felt. It didn’t work, my heart wasn’t into school and it possibly made things worse. I ended my first year on academic probation because of my low grade point average. Having little else to do in the small college town I let myself get wrapped up in partying and enjoying the freedom of being away from home. I focused on enjoying the present instead planning for the future. When I returned to school in the fall things didn’t get much better. By October I realized I was wasting my time upstate and it would be my last semester there. I came home depressed and discouraged. I owed the school my full tuition for the last semester because I never finished the financial aid paperwork and had bills I neglected to pay. Before I could think about planning for the future I had to get a job, any job in order pay my debt. I planned on going back to school after I payed off the debt and had a better idea of what I wanted to do. I still occasionally wrote but didn’t invest any real time, money or energy into writing. Instead I pushed it aside for later when the time was right.
So I’ve made a lot of mistakes, we all do, right? I would have made just as many no matter what I decided. So I would probably do it all the same if I had a chance to do it over. I may not have learned anything in classes but the experiences were well worth the time upstate. My writing career may have been stalled because of the lack of planning. Then again I’m not sure if I would have a writing career if things played out differently. I needed to make those mistakes and take some detours to realized what it is that I actually want. The only thing I regret is not making writing a priority in my life. I let it become something to do when I had the time, instead I should have been making the time. I got caught up living life and trivial little things seemed very important. I wasted many years because I forgot what was really important to me.