On the evening of November 16, 2011, I submitted my final payment to the U.S. Government for my student loans I incurred over my three and a half years of college. When this year began, I knew if I didn’t miss a payment that November would be the month.
And here I am. I have done it.
I graduated in December 2005 from the University of Northern Iowa and here I am, less than six years later, paid in full. It wasn’t easy. in that time I have had three jobs, been unemployed, bought a car, moved four times and had to shop for health insurance.
But I did it. Here’s how.
I started small. What does that mean? It means I went to a community college first. North Iowa Area Community College to be exact. It was a small place where I was given such great attention by my teachers, I learned a lot more than ever possible. My history classes was lecture, coupled with conversation. I went to this school for a few reasons. It was close to home. But mostly, it was a cost thing.
I explored what I wanted to do. Had I been forced as a freshman to declare a major, I would have hurt myself going to a big university and probably been forced to add on three whole semesters of classes. But I didn’t. I started with the idea of political communication, but changed to public relations and now I have a day-job that did not even exist in 2002 when I began college.
And finally, I saved my ass off while in high school (and even in college) so I wouldn’t have to borrow against my future. I must also say that my parents did help, but I didn’t see a dime of the green. They took out loans to pay for half of my schooling. Just half and I covered the rest through scholarships and my own loans. I am really quite thankful for them for that as now I am able to invest in my future in a new way and I can’t wait.
If you’re a fan of Penelope Trunk you know how she feels about education, and I will not argue with her because on the whole, I think she is right. We need to completely re-think our education system. How we teach at all ages. But more importantly, what value does college have?
My college experience taught me more about life, than it did work. I wish I could say different. I know what needs to happen in education so I am currently working hard on ideas to do just that.
But until then, I am now free to go to my own school and learn my own lessons. Yup, I will fail. And I do hope to get a gold star every once-in-awhile. But in the end, I know I will be learning. And that is deserving of something.