When I began my journey through education I put very little stock in the outcome. The certificate that said I would be a good secretary cost me $46 a unit multiplied by about 12. That is about the same value I placed upon myself. I didn’t have plans to go far. I didn’t even consider transferring to a four year institution. What good would it do? I had no passion, no drive, nothing. I wasn’t “college material.” To top it off, I felt that there was no value in a degree — associate, bachelor, masters, and beyond.
I was wrong. I just realized how wrong I was while on a 4-hour drive to visit extended family. As I laid my head against the headrest in my aunt’s car while the kids made random noises and snacked constantly, I took the time to look back over the course of the last ten years of my life. It was then, just a few days ago, that I realized how much my degree was worth — how much worth I added to my life through that degree.
When I first started college I was a minimum wage employee between jobs. I was raising two young children and had already planned to remain in the same house for the rest of my life. Previous to this point in my life, I had ruined my credit while also having my identity stolen. I had been in a few toxic relationships, too; I didn’t see opportunity for someone like me. It took me several years, a bout with postpartum depression, a brief separation, and the death of my grandmother to realize there was more to life.
When I returned to college in 2011, I decided to “go big or go home” and enrolled full-time. To my surprise, I succeeded. I went from failure to future over the course of five years and today I am not who I was ten years ago. Why? Because my degree has worth and so do I. After surprising myself and proving myself a dedicated student, I was invited to be a member of the Pearson Student Advisory Board. After that role ended I was then offered the new position of Editor-in-Chief of the student-led blog. When I earned my Bachelor of Arts in English, the position matured into a freelance (with Pearson) with a decent livable wage, thus allowing me to:
- Cancel my transitional assistance — i.e., food stamps and free healthcare.
- Pay my bills
- Fix my vehicles when they break down
- Buy clothes, shoes, and school supplies for my kids at any time during the year and not just tax time.
- Improve my credit enough to be offered actual credit cards, thus improving my credit further
- Begin to pay off my student loans
It may seem like small things, but they all add up. However, on top of these pay-based benefits that come with having a college degree, I have also gained the confidence necessary to finish writing a book, mentor students, plan and implement student-focused events, and prepare to teach college English! Mind. Blown. If you would have told me I would accomplish these things back ten years ago, I would have laughed it off and continued to live a life based on pessimism and self-doubt.
You might be in this same position right now or you may feel like the me from ten years ago. It’s difficult to see value when we don’t value ourselves; we have to learn to value ourselves and accept/embrace our worth once we realize it. But I want to challenge you, wherever you are and whatever you want to pursue in college, do it whole heartedly. Do it without regret. Do it without regard to what others say about your “useless” degree. Being successful isn’t easy, but nothing worth having/being ever is.
Are you a mom in college with a success story you’d like to share? Let me know!