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Why College is for Me

19 January 2009 No Comment

When I was asked to write something about why I wanted to go to college, I had  to think about it somewhat and the best explanation I could think of was to be able to expand my knowledge and then use the knowledge I would gain for everyday life and achieving my goals as well.  Like so many others, I thought college was a place where I would find out what I would do in the world. For instance, I could become a doctor, or a teacher, or a dentist to help out those who are in pain or people wanting to learn.  Even though it took me six years to get into college, I now realize that there have been hardships conquered, experiences gained and the knowledge of who and what I want to become.

People like me who are still looking for the one answer to what I want to do, still struggle to figure it out what that answer is.  I tried to find ways to escape that question and postpone it for another time.  I would say to myself, “I will figure it out later.”  With that weighing heavily on my mind, achieving my goal of going to college was getting harder and harder to do.  High school was a type of buffer zone for most of us; do what you needed to do to graduate.  Once I left high school reality kicked in, and I was on my own, I needed to figure out what I needed to do to survive the game of life.  Most people prepare themselves while in high school by getting everything they need to get ready for college.  Others like me know we want to go to college but we need the break from thirteen years of non stop learning.  For me, it was making bad decisions like not taking a more active role to get into college by getting a job to save money that would be needed, or finding other ways to pay for college, like financial aid and grants and then using the military as a way to escape and focus on doing a job.  Although, while in the military I knew I could go to college practically for free, I never did anything about it.

Most of what I have learned with computers was outside of school. I did a lot of self learning and was able to pick most of it up and the learning was done over time which made learning new material a lot easier.  With that idea in my mind, I could help others out if they had a problem that they are struggling with and many do when they first start out in the world of computers and design. What I have observed in the last twenty five years is that when I expand my knowledge, I can achieve many things in everyday life,  and one of them being the ability to teach others who are willing and interested in what I know through my own experiences as a student and what I have learned outside of school. So instead of  drinking that beer or going to a wild party, I would spend a few hours reading a book or do something related to that college course to learn more about it. This would help me to gain a better understanding of what to expect in the college course and then be able to participate more in class and answer questions I wouldn’t have been able to answer had I not studied.  Sometimes taking a break now and then is actually helpful, since it lets me clear my mind of things and then I am able to pull the strings apart in my head and straighten them out. This helps me to gain clarity and I am able to grasp the concepts.

Being an older first year student, I sometimes feel that I have to learn at a quicker pace than most first year students that are seventeen or eighteen that just graduated high school, since they have more of a time advantage than I do.  Then I tell myself sometimes that my experience as a person learning outside of school gives me the edge that I need to be as good as them or better.  Also as an older student I can start again where I left off in my education and complete my goal of being the first in my family to earn a college degree.  Also with me being older, I would be able to help the younger students because most likely they would have the same problems I did when I was their age.

While figuring out why I wanted to go to college I asked myself these questions, “Is this the right degree for me?” “Could I learn more after I completed school?”  A college degree is basically a piece of paper saying that you have a excellent understanding of that subject and what comes with it.  If you just take what is required you’re not really learning much and that’s why you have to branch off and figure out what else can come under that college degree.  For me it’s wanting to do something with computers.  Now I could list every possible job that I could think of that is related to computers, but I needed to think of what I really wanted to do, so I looked at what the school had to offer and compared that to what I actually can do and know about it.  So my advice to returning students is to plan everything out so they have a good understanding of what is needed to prepare for when school starts.  Then when the time comes to take that first class, they won’t have to worry about what classes they need to take since they will have that all figured out.

Who’s to say what will happen once I have completed college?  I could become another Bill Gates and run a multi-billion dollar corporation or become a great doctor and find new ways to save lives.  So all I need to do is pace myself and think things through and the situations that I think are hard or confusing will become easier and with the help and support of my family and friends. In some situations when I look at new material presented to me in class or in a book, I sometimes have an epiphany; “Oh my god, it all makes sense now!”  Then I mentally slap the side of my head just realizing that I know what they are talking about in that college level book or the assignment that was given to me. One of the things to help me get through my education is to remind my self of this; if I cannot expand my knowledge how will I be able to change the world?

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