Ask Aren

Why I wish I never went to college.

What marked adulthood for me was struggling to pay these bills. It’s hard for me to make this (title) statement with surety because I’ve developed very much on this journey. In a positive way. But you have to choose a side eventually. So if the choice is whether I do or don’t regret college, overall I have to say I regret it very much. This post is a little more personal, but that’s the goal with this blog. To eventually share my story. Here’s why I’m sitting here in a pile of regret:

I wasn’t prepared from day 1. My head wasn’t on straight, despite my appearance. I went away to school to escape my home city and my home life, not to get an education. My attitude: “I just need to graduate high school and get out of here”. With no plan in sight. 

My work ethic was shaky from the start. High school was very easy. I graduated top 10% of my class (#26 out of 151 or 152) with no effort. Because my high school wasn’t rigorous, I expected the same piece of cake curriculum in college. Boy was I rudely awakened. That means weak grades in the first semester (which set the tone) and each one after that. In addition, I wasn’t required to have a job in high school (it was suggested, but never forced upon me) which I deeply regret. A job would’ve taught me time management, and responsibility (at the very least). I just had a basic understanding: job = money. No concept of working smarter. Which made things harder. 

I wasn’t emotionally stable. People don’t talk about this enough (if at all). How important your emotional health is when going out into the real world on your own. I went away to school as a defense mechanism. To shut out and get away from everything that made me angry back home. My academic results reflected that. I even BS’d my AP exams during senior year (literally scribbled anything and filled in random bubbles) because I was so over my life and wanted to just leave it all behind. A passing grade would’ve saved me time, money and from remedial classes. I’ve never gotten counseling. I just used my juvenile tools to build a box around myself and contain my feelings. 

Too often I felt alone. You need constant mentoring and emotional support in college. Especially coming from an inner city school environment. Home issues, self issues, and no real friends (guys that play buddy for sex don’t count), tipped the scales toward depression. Too many people telling you what to do instead of asking how you feel first. This is when my journal lost it’s value. And I began to dabble into so many side hustle ideas, using college as an expensive living arrangement. I was suffocating. With no idea of where to look for air. 

And broke. If I would’ve known what kind of money pit lay ahead of me whilst I was running away from everything… these tuition gaps are NO JOKE. Especially when every dime has to come from you somehow. The mental, emotional, spiritual, financial anxiety just kept building up to the point where I basically dropped out. I took a leave of absence with no plans of returning. And I never did. At least to that school. After an 8 month hiatus I ended up transferring to another school. Out of state. The saga continued. The hole was dug even deeper. 

I am broken. In every way. This isn’t just about finances. College didn’t just ruin me financially.  It kept the wounds I left my home city with open for years. Somehow I thought college would heal them. I thought it was my ticket out. But it was my ticket down. I’m still haunted by personal failures. That’s a common flaw. I want to finally see light at the end of this tunnel in this New Year. I will. 

It’s hard for me to give advice when I’m in a vulnerable state. So I’ll say this: share your college experience (whether you’ve finished or not) in the comments below. If you haven’t gone to school, how has your transition to adulthood been? I want to connect with you.  

To New Beginnings,

-Aren

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2 Comments

  • Reply
    Cinnamon
    April 13, 2020 at 1:44 am

    Going to college was the biggest mistake of my life. I went with false expectations given to me by my family and mentors, who went to school in a different era and had a completely different experience than what you get today. I knew two weeks in that it was all a lie, it is just high school part 2. But I didn’t quit because I had fallen for an even bigger lie: that my piece of paper would matter. If I could redo one part of my life, I would have not gone to college at all, and gained a crucial head start in my career. I lost four years of my life to a place that I hated and gave me a poor and irrelevant curriculum, and I lost several more to trying to salvage a career from the wreckage. 10k+ fruitless applications later I realized I was living out the definition of madness.

    • Reply
      Aren Lodge
      April 24, 2020 at 1:51 am

      Hi Cinnamon, not sure what generation you identify with but I was born in ‘95, and graduated high school in 2013. I feel the value of the traditional college degree started going down hill after 2008, which of course those in my graduating class got the very tail end of. My parents (gen x) still believed in the traditional route of college, job/career, retirement (consider who their parents are) without consideration for the massive shift toward entrepreneurship and the gig economy. Much of their generation is still in denial to this day of the mandatory adaptations needed today for my generation to earn a decent living. We all don’t desire STEM jobs. Unless one has funding and proof of concept for a business right out of high school, trade is where it’s at. I would’ve pushed forward on a trade degree instead of falling for the novelty of being a freshman at a university. Thanks for commenting so in-depth. I really appreciate this level of engagement. -Aren.

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