Below is the third and final installment o the “Follow Your Dreams” series. It was written by Christine Martinez, Karmic Vintage’s newest full time blogger. -Elkee
Follow Your Dreams Part III: My Decision to Leave the University
January 14, 2013 should have been the first day of my senior year as an undergrad but it turned out to presumably be my last. I started at Gonzaga University exactly one year ago to pursue a Bachelor’s in Political Science with a minor in Women and Gender Studies. I knew after being accepted and actually attending my first semester that I left a financial situation back home that wasn’t in strong standing to begin with. It was hardly a good time for me to go off to a private university in another state. Fortunately, my family and I were able to sustain a year’s worth of tuition costs. As time went on, however, it became apparently intolerable for one parent to tackle amongst the other household necessities that need to be accounted for and I decided it was in my mother’s best interest to discontinue my education at this time. Sacrifices were being greatly made on her part so I felt this was my way of lessening the burden that was put on her since the beginning of my time at Gonzaga. Granted, my family and friends wanted to see me finish especially since I am so close to doing so but it never fully felt right to me. It never felt okay for me to not work and solely focus on my studies, really because that wasn’t something that I was used to. It never felt right for me to attend a school in where a good portion of the student body doesn’t even need to hold a job to contribute to their schooling and various expenses. I always felt the pangs of my mother’s struggle when payments needed to be deferred because she simply didn’t have enough to cover the $800+ a month. I severely began to question whether or not this was really all worth it. Most would say it is and that it is an investment that would pay off later on in life. I feared though, that I wasn’t a commodity worth investing in. To be honest, the pettiness of not having enough money, through no fault of my own, would outweigh the time, effort and hard work I’ve put in school thus far left me without much faith in what I was doing. It also isn’t just a story that pertains to me. I recently had a friend tell me that her first year at Loyola Marymount University could have been jeopardized due to a loan not processing quick enough for her to register for her next semester. Luckily everything worked out in her favor but this burden and stress is prevalent for any student who doesn’t come from a financially rich background. Higher education is expensive and there is nothing I can do about this fact. I can, however, object to this notion and leave on the principle of knowing that the myth that money shouldn’t suppress ones desire to achieve a degree is well, a myth. I hereby declare myself a college dropout.
To take my mind off some of the decision-making stress, I delved into the world of mind-numbing television. I was watching an episode of Shahs of Sunset on Bravo TV. For those of you unfamiliar it pretty much encases the same formula one would expect from a “reality” show only with like, Persians. Anyway, there was a scene where one of the cast members is at a mall and there happens to be a vending machine that dispenses caviar and of course if he didn’t think to make such a purchase at the beginning of his mall excursion, he does now. As I sit there watching him feed $3,500 into some fish-egg distributing mechanism in the matter of 5 minutes I calculate that at around 800-something dollars for 4 months would equate around $3,300, give or take. My spring semester at Gonzaga would be covered and then some at that rate. Wealth disparities have always been in existence and they probably always will be but deeming higher education as a thing of privilege didn’t seem more apparent than it did at a moment of realization such as this. I would hate to discourage those who truly want to further their education and may be scared that they don’t have the monetary resources to do so. In actuality, there are loans and grants and scholarships that are widely available if you look for them. I had a mixture of all three and yet somehow it still wasn’t enough. I suppose I could have asserted myself more and tried harder but by that point, my heart just wasn’t into it and I had no drive to further explore my options. The college route may be for some people but I’m starting to think I may not have been one of them and that’s okay. Save the looks of concern, something propels me to believe that the age-old adage of, “things happen for a reason”, manifests itself within my situation.
So, what’s next? I’m not sure but the picture isn’t that far from the bleak one painted at the end of what would have been my college graduation. All I want is to be surrounded by my loved ones, in the place I love, creating ideals and spreading them in the hopes that others can find nuggets of inspiration and truth within them. I did initially think that I would go through the motions of finishing up another year at Gonzaga and then whatever life I was to lead after would follow but I guess a year was too long to wait. I am forever thankful for the experiences I did have being away somewhere a little different for a little while. People keep asking me if I plan on finishing my education back home and I honestly don’t have any plans to in the near future. One year shy of obtaining a piece of paper and that makes me less worthy of a good job? Does it make me a slob that took the easy way out? There are many stigmatizations that surface but what aren’t so clearly seen are the reasons behind that decision being made. On the contrary, I feel that people in my position must work twice as hard to prove themselves and make a light at the end of a degree-less tunnel appear for themselves. One thing I don’t want is to feel sorry for myself or feel like I’ve failed in some way. Life is one big journey and I’m eager to see where I end up next.