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A College Student

On a Different Path

By Mark SmithPublished 6 years ago 6 min read
Modern Scholar at Work

Today I want to share my college education experience. One that is ongoing, but one that I feel people should hear. After High School, many feel like they are ready to conquer the world. Sadly, they have no idea what the world has in store for them. They follow the path that has been well worn by those before, and while this path may work for many; it does not work for everyone. This is a story about going off that path, the fear it instilled in me, the struggles it caused, and the passion it ignited.

Let me take you back to my High School graduation in June of 2015. I was 17 years old, not even a legal adult yet, but felt the world was at my finger tips. I had a girlfriend, whom I had been dating for around 5 years at this time. All-in-all, I felt poised to enter adulthood.

My future education plans were nearly identical to everyone else in my local town. For the most part, students around here go to the University of Maine in Orono after High School. It's a very well known University and fairly affordable. It also allows you to have a home away from home, but still be close enough to go back when you want. Many students elect to live on campus, regardless of how close they may already live to the school.

Personally, I grew up about 20 minutes away from campus. Close enough that I could have saved a lot of money living at home. My original plan was to become a Psychiatrist. Major in biology and focus on pre-med. I planned to stay home because it made more sense financially. However, I was encouraged by all my friends to stay on campus. A $13k loan later, I was moving into Androscogin hall.

This, was that well worn and true path. Walking around campus I saw many following it. For a while, I didn't mind. The first semester came and went and I was carrying a 3.2 GPA headed into spring. Over winter break I realized that I had zero passion for the biology field. Learning about plants and cell biology was just not for me. I was uninspired, and this led to me spiraling down, as well as my GPA.

Second semester was by far the hardest time I have ever had in my education. I was taking calculus, which I eventually dropped with a 56. I simply could not grasp it, and admitting that to this day is still a hard blow to my ego. Bio 200 was another mundane waste of time as I got to learn about evolution and how to track it back in time. Yuck. I did take an interesting philosophy class which was refreshing, along with Sociology 101. However, by the end of this semester I had put in for a leave of absence.

This was terrifying. I had no idea what my future had in store. I didn't know what I was going to do for work, or for a career. I was lost. I think a lot of people in this position feel that way, and it is really hard to see past it at the time. However, it does get better.

Now here's where my story gets interesting, and really becomes my own.

I started doing what I wanted, and what I thought was the best for me. I didn't listen to my friend's opinions, or my families, or advisors, or even my girlfriend. I did what I needed to do.

For me, that meant withdrawing from school, and quitting my job as a server. Two things that I felt were doing me no good. I took up a job traveling as a marketing manager for a country singer that I knew. We toured the midwestern states, and I made a good amount of money selling merchandise and getting commission. Furthermore, I learned that business is not for me.

I came home after this two week stint, jobless and out of school. Still not knowing what I was interested in, I turned to Google. A quick search for "high paying jobs near me" landed me in the mental health field. A field I was very familiar with, and that really peaked my interest. I had 3 interviews for a position known as Behavioral Health Professional (BHP). Eventually being hired by an amazing agency that took a chance and trained me to be a BHP.

September 2016, I began my BHP job. I was thrilled. I spent my days working with children who have special needs, and helping them become more independent in daily skills to the best of their ability. I was doing a job that mattered, and a job that I loved. A job that sparked my passions; working with children, and psychology.

October 2016, I began looking into schools again. This time doing it my own way. I knew I would be paying the schooling out of my own pocket, so I was looking for something affordable, and something that allowed me to continue working full time with my clients. I decided that I would look into online education.

This was a really hard choice for me, because there is a lot of stigma and stereotyping that goes into online education. Often times people think of it as being easier, and being in some way less valuable than an on-campus education. This ideology put more fear in me, because I did not want to get judged by my peers for going this route.

After finding and emailing several programs, I decided to enroll online at Southern New Hampshire University. I declared my major in psychology, with a concentration in child and adolescent development. My friends did judge me, and thought that I was taking the easy way out. However, I quickly learned it was because they had no idea how online schooling worked, or how much it took to do well in it.

My courses are 8 weeks, compared to an on-campus 16 week course. Same material, condensed into half the time. I usually have no exams, but instead have many papers to write that force me to apply the knowledge I am learning. No more just guessing on multiple choice papers, or looking for old versions of tests online. I had to study and know my material, or I was going to fail. My classes gave me no other choice but to learn, and I love it. SNHU is an amazing school, and I am so glad I decided to go this route.

Fast forward to present day. I am still working as a BHP at the same agency, and have been given 2 raises and acknowledged many times by my supervisors. I am still enrolled at SNHU with the same major. I currently have a 3.7 GPA that is on the rise. I am part of the online psychology club and positive connections club at SNHU. I have much better teacher-student relations. Most importantly: I am passionate and inspired.

My future plans and goals are exciting. I will be starting classes online through San Diego State University in August of 2018 for speech pathology. These courses are to give me experience for graduate school, as I hope to one day be a speech therapist. Furthermore, I have started looking into many graduate programs (which I will write about separately). My future is blindingly bright, and I'm so excited for what's in store.

Life after High School is rarely what we expect. I never would have thought that this would be my path, but I am so thankful it is. The path most traveled, is not always the path for you. Sometimes you have to go down a dark untraveled road, and make something of it for yourself. Don't be afraid of this, because you will find your place in this world, and you will find your own unique path.

Best of luck to all the students out there trying to make it to their goals. You can do it. Keep working hard, and keep following your dreams.


About the Creator

Mark Smith

I am a college student sharing my stories of college education and what I wish I had known about higher education.

I also write about my view on life, society, and people. Ideas of the future and more.

-Live your best life, it's all you got-

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    Mark SmithWritten by Mark Smith

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