As a 20 year old student who dropped out of SIU-Carbondale, I had no intentions of ever going back to school. I failed at my initial objective to major in computer science. Back then, I was naive and thought that I could pick up on programming as easily as I completed my high school courses. No one told me that Computer Science required an enormous time-commitment that I wasn’t ready for.
Okay, maybe “I” required an enormous time commitment dedicated to programming, but that didn’t matter. I sucked at discrete mathematics anyway, so I dropped out of the program.
At the time, failing as a computer science major was the biggest disappointment of my life. I wasn’t smart enough and deep down inside, I knew that I wasn’t disciplined enough to put in the work required to overcome my lack of intelligence as a computer programmer. Instead of sticking around campus figuring out what I was good at, I dropped out. I had no idea what I wanted to do and figured that there was no logical use in taking out more loans as I languished in Carbondale, IL.
The first thing I did was come home and get a job at UPS as a package handler. After a while, I got promoted to part-time supervisor. The job sucked and the pay was low, but I learned a lot about professionalism and leadership in that role. The on the job education I received at UPS changed the way I looked at work. I learned the importance of creating a routine for myself, which helped me establish good work habits and consistency.
After a while, I started considering a management career at UPS, so I talked with my mentor and full-time supervisor seeking guidance. I was told countless times to go back to college. This made no sense to me. “I’m good at my job, isn’t that enough?” I thought. With more prodding from my mother, I took advantage of the earn and learn program, went back to school and got an associates degree.
When it was time to transfer back to a four-year university I still didn’t know what I wanted to major in. After languishing at Chicago State for a semester, I dropped out even more determined not to go back to school. By that time, I changed my mind about a management career at UPS and spent the rest of my 20s changing jobs every year or two in pursuit of the career that I desired -I never found it.
At the snap of a finger, I found myself being 32 years old and living with my mother as my year-long unemployment compensation came to an end. I hadn’t managed to find a job after my year-long layoff and I got desperate. I decided to enroll at Prairie State College to complete a two-semester certificate program. The certificate would reinforce skills acquired in my previous positions and within a year I’d land a pretty good job.
I never got the certificate.
The certificate program requires that I take a Financial Accounting class, so I decided to get that class out the way first. I knew it would be the most challenging course out of all my required courses so I didn’t want to find myself languishing through it in my final semester. While I couldn’t understand why that course would be required for the certificate I was pursuing, I’m glad that it was.
Financial accounting was more challenging than I initially thought. I knew it was going to be a tough course, but I had no idea about the degree of difficulty I would encounter at the onset of this course. Only this time, I was 32 years old and had acquired discipline over the years. As I spent more time learning debits and credits, journal entries and financial statements, I realized that I wanted to be an accountant. While I found my accounting homework challenging and time-consuming, it became a labor of love. I also found a full-time job four weeks into the semester too.
Now I find myself attending Prairie State as an older, nontraditional college student studying accounting and working 12-hour shifts. The struggle continues.