I refer to myself as “heatherinbadweather” for a reason.

Like a number of high school graduates, I decided to go to college. I thought it was the best decision I could ever make in regards to my future. However, I learned that college is not for everyone.

At 18yrs. old, I thought that all people should strive to obtain at least a master’s degree in a subject of interest. After all, college always pays off, even if you’re not sure what you want to do with your life, right? Wrong. I’ll admit, when I was very young and more ignorant, my dream was to become a psychiatrist. This was not because I had a real interest in the medical field or that I was obsessed with the human mind…I guess it just seemed like an impressive goal.

Well, I first attended a community college (to be a psychiatrist? Yeah, the dream was probably shot from the beginning) immediately after high school, but due to chaotic circumstances, a counselor suggested that I withdraw. I did. Then, I made one of the worst mistakes I’ve ever made in my life by attending Anderson University in Anderson, South Carolina. At first, I was going to major in psychology; however, I changed my mind and decided to major in art education. What a change! Anyway, an academic adviser placed me in an art 102 class rather than 101 even though I informed the person that I had no experience. They insisted that the classes were not that different and that I would do fine. Well, when I turned in my first project, I lost points on my grade because the picture was not “cut out” right. I pointed out that they never taught that in the class and I was not even aware that there was a correct way to do that. The instructor told me that I should have learned that in 101; I pointed out that he told me that I did not need 101 first. He didn’t have anything to say to that. Also, they docked points from my grade because my picture was drawn too lightly even though he told me that it was done correctly while we were working in class.

In addition, I had an education course in which students were to observe another teacher at an elementary school. At that time, I had a problem with my email account, so I did not get emails from the instructors. While in class, the teacher asked us who still did not have their information about who they were to observe and where. Myself and a number of others raised our hands. I later informed him that my email was not working properly and needed him to simply give me my information. I told him this a number of times. I’m pretty sure I even left a note on his door regarding the fact that he still had not told me who or where to observe. Finally, I reached him in his office. He called the teacher whom I was supposed to observe right in front of me and told her that he had a student who was being slack and still needed to come observe. I was furious. I pointed out that I had told him a number of times, at least 5, that I needed the information. He told me that I needed to stay on him about it. How much more “on him” could I have been? I was a full-time college student with a job. I didn’t have time to sit at his office day all day every day and beg him to do his job.

By the way, I had a work-study job with Anderson University my second semester there and I got paid once a month. For some reason, the school kept asking me to fill out change of address forms which I did at least 6 times. I’m still not sure why they still didn’t have my address, but I finally just tried not caring. I told the people who worked in the office not to send my paycheck to me. Instead, I would just pick it up. So what did they do? They sent it out. It was hard enough that I was poor and only got paid once a month, but to have them send it away so that it takes even longer? What?

I talked to a school counselor about my continuing problems with the school and she told me that “some people just get into the system wrong”. What does that even mean?

After continual problems with the school, I attempted to file a grievance saying that I paid for a service that wasn’t rendered; however, I didn’t get anything out of it.

Later on, I attended a technical school in Indiana where I decided that I would eventually transfer to a 4 year college and major in social work. For the most part, things went fairly well there, with the exception of the beginnings of semesters and a particular instructor. Because I was an independent student with a full-time job, I didn’t get the financial aid that you would expect. Let me explain this further: Because I was not 24 years old, I was considered to be automatically dependent upon my parents even though I lived in a different state  and did not receive any help from them. Thus, when the school saw my income which was a little over poverty level, they judged that I actually made a large amount of money for a full-time college student. Also, I did not have any children to claim, so this weakened my chance for financial help as well….and just when I thought I had made responsible decisions, right? In fact, for me to simply get a loan in my name, I had to have my mother fax a statement to the school saying that I did not receive help from her presently, would not receive help in the future, and had not been supported for five years. My mother ended up sending at least 3 faxes in an attempt to allow me to get loans in my name…without receiving much financial aid. Let me put it to you this way: I owe about $20,000 for college and I will only end up with an associate’s degree in general studies. What in the world will a ‘general studies’ degree do for me anyway? What? I can insist to my interviewers that I know a solid amount of general information?? Wow, what a treasure I am.

Finally, it came to the time when I was supposed to transfer. It was suggested to me that I apply to University of Indianapolis. Of course, I was uneasy about attending another private school since they were so much more expensive than state schools, but my “knowledgeable” friends insisted that I would get enough financial aid to make it worth it. After all, I had excellent grades and was dirt poor. Well, as it turned out, the school was going to cost me a ludicrous amount of money and I simply couldn’t afford. If I were going to be a doctor or lawyer, I could understand being able to pay off extreme debt and have your education be worth it; however, social workers just don’t make that much. So, I applied to IUPUI. Everything seemed like it was working out just fine until I spoke to a counselor who told me that despite the fact that I had been in school for 3 years already, I’d have to go to IUPUI for another 3 years to finish. If that wasn’t bad enough, she also told me that I would have to complete 2 internships while actually attending classes. Thus, there wouldn’t have been enough hours in the day for me to work, handle school, and sleep.

So, I applied to Winthrop University in Rock Hill, SC. Because I was married to a South Carolina resident, I should have been able to get in-state tuition even though we had just moved there after getting married. What my husband and I didn’t consider is that financial aid is based on the previous year and we were not married the previous year. Well, we figured we would just pay out-of-state tuition for one semester…..I found out that it was going to cost me $12,000 for one semester. Keep in mind, $12,000 would be expensive for one year, but one semester? Like I said, I just wanted to be a social worker, so it just wasn’t worth being in debt to such an extent. Not only that, my academic adviser at Winthrop guaranteed me a number of times that day that I could finish my degree in one more year; however, I was later told by another person that finishing in one year would be nearly impossible. When I spoke to me academic adviser about it again on another day, she told me that it would definitely take me a year and a half. I reminded her that she just said last week that it would only take me year. She just kind of shrugged.

After this, I went to a school counselor and complained. I told her that if my adviser was supposed to be an example of what a social worker was, then it wasn’t for me. I told her about all the problems I had with Winthrop and in the past. I also informed her that I would not attend Winthrop this semester or ever.

Now, I’m just waiting for the summer semester to begin at Ivy Tech Community College so that I can finish up my unwanted associate’s degree in general studies. Thank God I only have one credit hour to do. They told me that they would just mail me my diploma. To be honest, I just want it to be over. One good thing that has come from all of this is that I now understand why some people say that college is a waste of time. See, I don’t actually think college in general is a waste of time, I just think that bachelor’s degrees are a waste of time and money. That is, unless you are attending in hopes of becoming something that causes you to make an excess of money like a doctor, lawyer, some kind of executive banker, etc. Other than those exceptions, I think it is a better investment to go to some kind of trade school or 2 year community college. I know college advisers and high school teachers will insist to you that college graduates always make more money and that the more years you go to college, the more money you will make. However, they fail to mention all the debt that you will be paying off for the next 20 years or so and the trouble that college advisers and employees will put you through. For goodness sake, consider your sanity!

High School Graduates: Don’t let others push you into attending a 4 year college. If you have a dream that you are dead set on pursuing and you must attain a bachelor’s degree, be aware of the costs. When I say cost, I not only mean the monetary costs, but also the time as well. The time you spend at school is time that could be better spent earning and saving money. People insist that you go to college because “you’re supposed to”, but think carefully about whether that is for you or not. Talk to others who attending 4 year schools and ask them what they think. Also, be aware that your student loans are not free money as some would have you think. You’ll have to pay those back at some time or another….probably at a time when you’re wanting to buy your first home, get married, and start a family. Just think it over.