Things I Learned Going Back to College

It seems that I am best able to express myself after attending a 4 hour hands-on training in my video production class every Wednesday. Once again, I write with a throbbing headache but something about the little suffering allows me to reflect more. It has just been two months since I became a full-time student with a very, very part time job. But it already feels like I have been doing this for a long time now.

Perhaps with just two months in, it is a bit premature to share what I have already learned going back to school. But I think it is good to start now, and just build on the list as I finish the semester. Then I would have something to look back on, ponder, and update.

I understand that not all education systems are the same. Additionally, we might not share a similar situation in terms of educational requirement. Perhaps you are already in the path of completing a 4 year undergraduate degree. Or that your institution does not allow you to hand-pick courses. If that is the case, I am afraid that this post would not be as helpful to you. However, if none of these apply to you and you find yourself wondering if you should go back to school and are able to, I say just go for it!

Of course, this is with the implication that you are able to pay for the costs of attending college. It remains a lamentable reality how education is still a privilege instead of a right, especially here in the US. If you think you could get past this hurdle, I highly encourage you to start your research on financial aid, scholarships, grants, or any similar financial assistance offices, especially if you belong to a low and/or middle-income household. 

My younger sister is the best example I could think of when it comes to getting the most from financial aid. She has been in school here in California for almost 7 years now, has attended Saddleback Community College, and graduated from the University of California Los Angeles just this July. All this she has done without ever spending for her education. She applied and got awarded with scholarships and grants, including ones from private institutions. Needless to say, she has been the one who got me started on my financial aid application. Like her, I was able to get my enrollment fees waived for the current fall semester, and upcoming spring semester, all thanks to the Board of Governors Fee Waiver. Additionally, I received my award letter for Pell Grant which amounts to about $5000. 

At this point, if you think you could allot time to look up the availability of financial aid in your state right now, please leave this post and go start your search!

If you are still here, then here is what I have been mulling on when it comes to going back to college:

1. It is never too late to go back to school.
At some point in our lives, our day to day experiences begin to turn into routine. We get so used to it, comfortable actually, that we overlook how our lives could change. This may or may not be a good thing, that is up to you to decide. But if you think you have the time and resources to attend college, even if it is just to try one class, please go for it. Personally I spent about two years wondering if I should go back. Add to that the tinge of hesitation on how I might be too old for school. Perhaps the education system and culture of community colleges is different here in the US, in that age is not really a factor. However, my perception has been heavily influenced by my Filipino upbringing. I grew up thinking that you go to school to get a degree, then to get a job, and finally, it is all just onwards from there.

It is only now and with my experience in community college that I am able to fully realize that you could go to school just because you want to! And I am telling you, there is nothing quite like the force and fulfillment of going to a class you chose out of pure interest to learn. I have always been a grade-conscious student but I feel more committed to my handpicked classes than to the ones previously required by my course. My thinking has changed from having to beat a deadline for a course requirement to wanting to learn and do as much as I could. Perhaps it is because I chose the class and I could see how doing my best in it is directly beneficial to what I want to achieve in my life right now.

2. It is a means to explore other interests.
I have always loved designing and sewing, and in presenting my work online, I had to learn a bit about photography and web development. I merely dabbled before, never considering I could turn these interests into something more. With my current classes in video production and HTML/CSS, I discovered that I like learning about these things! I know it would take me time to fully get the hang of it but learning something new has always been a fulfilling experience for me, and so far, I have been very happy with my classes. I am looking forward to the end of the semester to gauge how much my interest has grown. This then would inform me of what classes to take next semester, apart from the ones required by the certificate I am also trying to finish.

3. It is a way to find inspiration.
My professor in video production is hard-working, accommodating, and just inspiring. One time, he had to dismiss us earlier than scheduled because of a campus situation. We only had a few minutes left for the class but I saw him clearly stressed out. He explained that this small change meant he won't be able to teach what was all scheduled for the day, and for a tightly packed course, the implication was serious. I was not fully certain then if he was lamenting the fact that he might have to adjust the syllabus or if he felt bad that he could not completely teach us all that we had to learn. But still I considered that day as a reminder of how some people are simply passionate at what they do, a character trait that I have always wanted for myself. A few more weeks in, I have come to believe the latter, especially with how he constantly asks if we were enjoying and learning from his class.

I have only been back in college for a couple of months. That said, I feel that apart from learning from my classes, I have also been able to learn more about myself. I have come to realize how I truly look up to hardworking individuals, and how I am inspired by them. Furthermore, I am grateful for the opportunity of attending college and wish that I could extend it to others some day. In the meantime, I encourage everyone to begin researching about financial aid and just going for it!

Top: H&M
Skirt: Uniqlo
Shoes: Calvin Klein
Purse: M'Lady PH

No comments