Casual Fridays With AK – The Long Road To Graduation

I’ve decided to institute casual Fridays here at I’m sure my faithful readers (or soon to be faithful readers) would enjoy something more personal and laid back, so here will be my forum. The plan is each Friday to post something not as formal or industry-news-like as my usual posts. This week I will begin with a little more background on my unique journey to graduating with two degrees.

All throughout high school I was involved in the marketing aspects of all the organizations I was in and yet I was determined to go to school to become a dental hygienist. I even had the lofty idea of eventually becoming a dentist. Most courses throughout my high school education came very easily to me, but not science. Science was difficult for me, thus, challenge accepted! My senior year I took science courses as my electives and upon graduating high school started out at the local community college, Rock Valley College (RVC). During the last semester of my second year at RVC I realized it just was not for me.

I took four years off from school and worked full time. During this time I thought I wanted to work my way up the corporate ladder at Taco Bell (crazy, I know), but I always knew I wanted to go back to school. Education has always been very important to me and for a while I thought I’d get a managerial degree or eventually want to do marketing for Taco Bell’s parent company, Yum! Brands. I moved up in management but was working 55 or more hours a week, with no support from my management to go back to school. I talked to a friend who decided to go back around the same time about financial aid and the potential difficulties. After a lot of consideration, I decided to finally take the leap at 24 years old to enroll full time and finish my degree. I applied at numerous schools in the Chicago-land area with business degrees in marketing, as I knew this is what I wanted to focus on. I got accepted to Loyola University as a transfer student and never looked back.

This was a large risk but I will never regret it. It involved quitting my job and moving to Chicago, not knowing when I’d find work that would be flexible with my schedule and support me. I was fortunate enough to find part-time work and eventually a paid internship. The idea of getting into debt with student loans was scary but with financial assistance, it seemed a lot more manageable.

During my first semester at Loyola University, I was encouraged by upper class men to have a strong minor or dual major with my marketing degree due to the current economic condition.  I was interested in the newly founded School of Communications, especially in their advertising and public relations degree. By the end of my first semester I declared a second major. I started school in the fall of 2007 and by December 2010 graduated with two degrees under my belt!

Of course this is a shortened version of my journey, but you get the gist of it. Along the way I’ve encouraged a few friends to go back to school. I’m glad to say I’ve seen two of my friends graduate within the same time frame as me and recently got my roommate to go back to school. I also know two other friends who just this year went back, not necessarily due to my encouragement although I’d like to think I set a good example for their consideration. I think some let age and fear hold them back from pursuing their dreams. I also think people go to college and don’t really know what they want to do with their lives and end up with a degree, debt and no real direction upon graduation.

I hope to continue encouraging people to go back to school, regardless of their age. To let them know that even if financially it sounds scary, it is possible. Also, that it’s okay to not know what you want to do with your life right out of high school! That taking some time off or taking fun classes is okay. I’m very fortunate I knew what my career path was and exactly what I was interested in, but for most that is not the case. Everyone needs to find their passion and pursue it, but if it doesn’t work out not to chalk it up as a failure. We have the rest of our lives to change career paths and learn. I want to eventually get my masters, maybe I’ll get two! Maybe I’ll get a doctorate or learn another language. You never know, at 60 years old I may decide a whole new path and start over. Risks are good to take, life is too short to be miserable.

So I ask you this, what has been your journey? I’d love if you’d share it.

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