Monday, April 18, 2011

To what degree?

A conversation at lunch made me think about my college degrees. Not that I had a lot of time to think and ponder today. After many years and thousands of dollars, my degrees are finally paying off. (Paying off figuratively, not literally, since my student loans are still hanging around.) I spent many years after one degree and working on the next working menial jobs that had nothing to do with my field of study. I sacrificed those years for my family, working jobs that paid a decent amount of money but worked around my busy "Mom" schedule. Raising my children was priority number one. It still is. But the kids are old enough and in school now so my schedule allows me to work in my new position. There were many days (MANY days) where I questioned myself and my credentials. I questioned whether I would ever find a job that took my education into account when hiring me and determining my salary. I wondered if I would ever find a position where I could use what I know and actually enjoy what I was doing.

Advising students for five months has made me realize how important my job really is. I wish I had this type of guidance when I was in college. I had a very bad experience with an advisor when I first went off to college and never saw one again until I was almost finished. Lucky for me, I stayed on track and was able to finish but that one bad experience took away many opportunities that I could have had, should have had. I could have gone through these career assessments and cut down the years of wondering and thinking I had found what I wanted to do only to realize I hated what I was doing. I could have learned about resources the college had to offer so I could have had help with English, math, any subject I was having trouble with. There are so many things I could have learned from an advisor but didn't. My bad experience should not have stopped me from continuing my search for a good advisor but coming from a small island to the big, bad United States made me fearful of speaking out or asking questions. I know. Excuses. But I was truly terrified of asking people for help and even more afraid of being turned down or being treated like I was stupid.

Despite the bad experience and lack of resources, I was able to finish my first degree. Ten years later I earned the second degree. My current position gives me the chance to encourage other students to complete their degrees, have good experiences with advisors, and hopefully have some idea of what they want to do after college. AND, I get to use my education for something good. And something that I absolutely enjoy!

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