“Elizabeth, it’s not going to happen- you cannot graduate this year but, you can walk next year with your original graduation class”, my counselor said warmly with a smile as I sat numb on her couch. “ but, you don’t understand…I have to graduate so I can join the ministry training program in the Fall at my church. They offer accredited college courses and I need to have a diploma in order to enroll!” I cried. “You don’t really want to go to college though do you? You aren’t really college material-maybe after you take the make-up course in the summer, you can get your GED. “
That moment shouted to my heart that I wasn’t meant for college life. So, I did as my counselor instructed: go to summer school, retake the course, and test for my GED. I did enroll in the training program at my local church, and took the courses needed for my training and they could e transferred to any accredited college if I planned to pursue a degree elsewhere, but having been told I wasn’t cut out for college, I put college life in the back of my mind. From the local program, I transferred to South Carolina after two years of courses and training to help with the program at a new church. Then life happened- I met a man, we said I do, we found jobs, we found out we were expecting our daughter, bought a house, then came another daughter 4 years later, and then we lost our jobs and moved back to Colorado.
Life happens so fast that I forgot that I had college dreams that went unfulfilled.
My husband and I found ourselves wondering what to do next. He too had began at an engineering college but left to pursue the ministry we both worked for and his credits were just sitting there being unused. After a short time landscaping, he was hired to work with a local online school that eventually led him to work for a non-profit mentoring agency. There, he was encouraged to go back to school to complete his degree. I was in complete agreement because of how necessary a degree is in our society. I’m happy to say that after 2 years at the engineering school, 6 years on hiatus, and 8 years working full-time and attending school…HE IS DONE!!! But somewhere around year two of him being in college here in Colorado, the conversation came up about returning myself.
I gave every excuse known to man about why I couldn’t return and how we couldn’t afford college for me; how I wasn’t meant for campus life. My husband suggested I try online classes, just to get my feet wet. After much encouragement from friends and family, I took the plunge. Initially, it was to prove my high school counselor wrong. I was scared out of my mind as I downloaded the syllabus to my first class. I am pretty sure I fainted when I looked at the course schedule. And with that, I began my own academic journey. I have now been taking online classes part-time through my local community college for the past 5 years. Part-time because I am a woman who wears many hats- all of which I love. It has proven to be very difficult at times and demanding because of the workload. Other times it has felt so freeing because I don’t have to go to a class on campus (which petrifies me more than a massive explosive diaper or vomiting child). I found my stride with online courses and I will be finishing up within two semesters…finally.
My counselor’s words may have been my reason to go back to school to prove her wrong, but they aren’t why I have stayed in school. Somewhere around my third year of college, I believed I could- even with late nights, sick children, job losses, new children, and a host of other reasons that could tell me to stop, I kept going because I truly believed I could do it. All I have to do to remind myself why I am really attending college is hug my son, or look into the eyes of my beautiful girls. I want a better life for them and I want their futures to be bright. I want them to see an example of perseverance through my life. I stopped believing I couldn’t and began believing I could. Not on my own strength, but by the grace of God and with the help of my support system of family and friends.
Friend, I don’t know what is keeping you from hitting the apply icon on the admissions page of the school you are thinking about. I don’t know what circumstances you may find yourself in that make you feel “less than able” to walk on that campus. You may have been told no all of your life, but I am here to tell you YES!
You can do it.
You can make it work.
It will be hard but it will be worth it.
It will require a lot of effort and dedication.
Do yourself the favor: enroll and keep going.
Don’t let life pass you by; the longer you take to say yes, the longer it will take to finish.
I believe you can, and I will continue to tell you I until you believe you can too.