Going Back to School at Twenty-Eight

This semester is the first time in six years that I am taking any post-secondary school courses after receiving my Associate of Arts in North Carolina in 2012 but with a dash of my time at the University of Hawai'i thrown in because I'm working full-time. I am fortunate in that my job pays for tuition but because of my work schedule, the number of classes I am able to take at once is rather limited. However, that may be for the best. Taking six credits should allow me to get back into the groove of being in school and since it has been several years, I will need that transition time. It has taken me a while to come to the decision to go back to school after several disheartening attempts since moving back to California - really since moving back to the mainland United States.

I loved my time at the University of Hawai'i at Manoa. There were some professors that were less than fantastic in my opinion but overall, it was a wonderful experience. The campus is gorgeous, the class selection is varied, and the diversity of students, as well as faculty, earns two thumbs up from me. But being married to a service member during my third year of attendance meant there was no guarantee we would stay and we certainly didn't. In 2011, we were relocated to North Carolina and not to where we were initially told we were headed. Instead of Wilmington where I had been able to get in contact with a transfer counselor, we were given orders to move to Hickory. I remember calling my sister and crying, "Who the hell names a town 'Hickory'?" The only four-year university in town was a private, Christian college with a hefty price tag so instead of picking up where I left off, I felt like I was going backward attending the local community college. But all things for a reason, I suppose.

In a couple of semesters and with high marks, I earned my Associates and the waiting game started again until we moved to California with plans for me to attend California State University San Marcos shortly thereafter. Instead of a degree, I got a divorce and moved back to the Central Valley after being away for sixteen years. More on that later. 

Starting over readjusted my priorities. I needed a new job to be able to support myself since my former husband had been the majority breadwinner before we split up. School took a backseat as I worked full-time hours for a part-time position at a financial institution and worked at a retail store as well. Finding the opportunity to breathe was difficult enough, nevermind even entertaining the idea of school.

When I finally made an appointment to meet with a transfer counselor at Fresno State University, she made my transcripts bleed as she crossed out general education courses because she didn't anticipate them being transferable. We're talking chemistry, statistics, English composition, etc. Basically, I was told that after several years and thousands upon thousands of dollars, I would have to start from square one if I wanted to be a Bulldog. You have got to be fxcking kidding me. I was pissed.  

My most recent attempt at going back to school was a "reach for the stars" sort of go at it. A friend and mentor of mine put me in contact with a University of Southern California alum and he informed me there is a scholarship for USC's School of Cinematic Arts granted by George Lucas and his wife to increase the diversity of enrollment in the university's film and television programs. Finding out late in the application window, I hustled and with the help of a few friends, was able to make an application short and sent off my packet. In March of last year, I visited the campus while I was in Los Angeles for a networking event and it was an emotional experience walking around such hallowed grounds. But it seems it was not meant to be - at least not now. July came around and with it, a rejection letter. Great.

If we are being completely honest, society seems to love that piece of paper and the lack of a Bachelor's or higher has kept me from being considered for certain positions in the past. Automated hiring practices have a tendency to weed out applications submitted by those with potential because they miss out of keywords or nix the ones that do not have the appropriate answer to the question "What is your highest level of education?" I wish that weren't so often the case but alas, that's one potentially negative consequence that's come along with technological advancement. Even more annoying when you're given the opportunity to contest your rejection and you receive a response riddled with spelling and grammatical errors. Am I perfect? Absolutely not. But getting an email like that from someone in human resources results in a facepalm. For sure.

Despite everything that happened in my attempts to achieve a higher education, I never stopped wanting to learn and always kept doing so on my own by reading books, watching documentaries, and even learning new skills in screenwriting and video editing with the help of some talented friends and some popular YouTubers. Those lessons helped me to earn a little money on the side making promotional videos for social media, advance, place, or win in several screenwriting contests, research for literary projects, and simply expand my mind.

In closing, I would like to say that if you ever find yourself in a situation where your thirst for knowledge is out of sync with your current life situation, don't throw in the towel. Explore YouTube, Skillshare, or Udemy. Visit your local library or browse the shelves to find hidden gems at your neighborhood used bookstore. Some adult schools offer classes at a significant discount and at times more conducive to a full work schedule. Utilize what means are available to you and when you are better able to work towards a formal education - if you so desire - you will be more prepared than if you hadn't. And in all likelihood, it will keep you sane in the meantime.