WRITTEN BY CARYL CLEM:
I remember senior year in high school as a continual state of anxiousness. I wanted to leave a paper trail I was proud to achieve in 1966. The final tests, grades, college letters of application were done. Discussions of future hopes and dreams had chosen a university in Wisconsin. The exhilaration of high school graduation had barely subsided when the whirlwind of college preparation started. Time melted in the heat and daily plans to find supplies. I had worked through high school and was eager to spend my hard earned money. My parents managed to convince me to practice budget control. I knew in my heart they were right. You will find more to spend money on once you settle in. Carrying one suitcase and my favorite pillow, I arrived at my dorm ready to start college life.
As a volunteer in a charity thrift store the past few weeks this summer, as bound -for- college hopefuls search for items on their list, it renews the passions I felt getting ready for my next big move in life. The items on the list have increased for today’s digital age, but the glow in their eyes and the excitement in their voices confirm that this is a major event. Several advantages of a degree remain true such as higher pay (56% more than a high school diploma), the lowest group for unemployment (2.5), plus a reference proving your abilities and dedication. The National Center for Education Statistics provides a wealth of information.
Looking back on what I did not do to get ready for college, I did think about my personality needs. I had all the materials necessary but left out the mental preparation. My first year in college was a disaster, cutting classes since there was no attendance. I hated the noisy, crowded dorm. My family prepared or grew most of the food I consumed so the cafeteria food tasted like gruel. Meals were provided by the vending machines serving sugar laden ice cream sandwiches, salty Fritos, and Coke. In 7 months I had developed over 12 cavities and some very serious health issues.
My grades were still in the C range-but the first semester of my sophomore year I dropped out. Bill Gates has said, “The U. S. has the largest dropout rate. We are number one in terms of people who start college but we’re number 20 in terms of people who finish college. “
An increasing number of students are enrolling in vocational schools; over 7 million will start college using this avenue. Vocational schools offer a two year degree for an average cost of $33,000 compared to a 4 year degree average cost of $124,000. Changing my school environment, I enrolled in a vocational school choosing a major I loved while living in a cheap apartment. I established relationships with my professors. A student loan was acquired and then I applied for a scholarship to transfer into a four year degree program to follow the two year degree. I graduated from Northeastern University in Chicago with a B.A. in 1978 and later earned a Master’s from National Louis in Evanston in 1982.
My Mother’s motive for college was to find a husband. Today the number of males enrolled in college keeps decreasing. The average time to earn a degree varies; the national average is 6 years. A freshman in college can be any age; the demographics of a university classroom reflect the spectrum of people pursuing their college dream.
Over 20 million hopefuls will enter college this fall. The most successful students know that the college lifestyle is demanding and requires self-discipline. College can be a success for any student who is determined, persistent, boosted by faith that this dream will come true.