Photo Credit: Degrees Finder
Saturday Selects is a series of posts I write the first Saturday of each month in which I discuss a topic that is unrelated to my typical bookish posts. You can read the previous posts here. This week we’re going to talk a little about college. And that ever moving target we all know as a degree. But first, let me tell y’all a bit about my experience.
My time in college started in August of 2010. This came of course immediately after graduating from high school in June of that year. I didn’t step foot on campus until orientation, which happened in July. My first thoughts were not all that positive. See, the University of Houston Downtown is in downtown Houston. There are skyscrapers and a million gazillion cars everywhere, people walking around in suits, there’s the county jail…suffice it to say that there is A LOT going on in downtown Houston. As there likely is in the heart of any metropolitan area. So I don’t know how I still managed to think that I’d have that picturesque college campus. Nope. The school consists of six buildings that are within walking distance of one another. North and South Towers, which are literally towers. I think they’re 13 stories high? Academic Building. Commerce Street Building. Shea Street Building. One Main Building. Why am I telling y’all this? My experience is immediately different from the experiences of most students just in the layout of the university. There are no huge areas of green grass surrounding any buildings. There aren’t extravagant buildings added each year. Though two of the buildings have been added within the last decade. The point I’m making is that UHD has a different feel to it than most universities. There aren’t even dorms.
Now just a little more about my experience while I was there. I never considered taking part in any fraternity or association on campus. It just wasn’t for me. I never really thought to make a bunch of friends or socialize, to be honest. My philosophy while I was in school was essentially go to class, sit in the front row, take notes when necessary, get home as soon as possible once class is over. I’m not kidding. I could easily go days in class without speaking to anyone. Because I was there to get the piece of paper I have sitting right here in front of me now as I write this. The degree. And no one I went to school with was going to help me get it but me. I stuck with that philosophy throughout my time in school. And guess what it got me? Not only did I get that degree I was after, but I did so with honors while being the youngest in my graduating class. My time at UHD ended on May 15, 2013, the day my graduation became official.
But this post isn’t all about me. I’m 22. I know A LOT of people still in school. My high school graduating class is now four and a half years post graduation. You and I both know that some of these degrees that are being sought will never be earned. Why? Because my philosophy doesn’t seem to work for most people. All you ever hear about is the college experience and how great everyone wants those years to be. That’s great, but I’m afraid that too many people have lost sight of the actual goal. See, the goal isn’t to have sex with as many people as you can or to see how many weekends in a row you can find yourself over the toilet because you don’t know when it’s time to stop drinking; it’s that degree. At least for me it was. I was one of those guys in high school who constantly said how smart I was but I didn’t try (I graduated #427 out of 527). Because I knew college would be the time for me to put up or shut up. I put my money where my mouth was and got down to business the minute I walked on campus.
Another part of the equation I’m thinking about now is how many kids don’t particularly care about what they’re doing because they have parents who are paying for their new car, their off-campus apartment, and everything else they NEED while they’re in school. See, I didn’t have that. My parents cannot afford college tuition for any university, so all of my expenses were paid for by grants, scholarships, and the federal government. That was my incentive for staying focused on the goal at hand. Sure my GPA was high and I was getting paid to go to school, but if I decided to slack off for a semester or two I’d struggle to find the money to pay for future classes.
This post isn’t meant to say that every single person should go to college and get their degree. That’s not what I’m saying because I know that college isn’t for everyone. Quite honestly, I’m not even sure it was for me. But I gave myself three years at a university to get it done and I did. And if I can, so can you. But you have to want it. You have to be focused on what it is you’re trying to do. Do you want to be one of those students who spends nearly a decade in school without getting your degree? Or do you want to become a graduate?
My message to you would be to forget about that upcoming Halloween party. Forget about what you’re going to do for your friend’s 21st birthday. Go study. If that’s too much to ask, then read a book and get off Twitter. Focus on the ultimate goal of the college experience. You have the rest of your adult life to make memories of things of much greater significance than that frat party.
Whew. Sorry guys. I sat down to write this and had no idea what I was going to say.