I never questioned the fact of going to college after high school. It’s what you’re supposed to do right? Get a degree and enter the workforce. Only way to succeed. Or that’s what we’re told, anyway.
My junior year of high school I dove head first into figuring it all out. I looked into all the colleges within 100 miles of my home, because I love my mother too much to go far away. I was determined to major in writing, not English, and ended up with only two options to continue my education. And of course, those two options were among the most expensive schools. So the next step was financial aid. I applied for, not even kidding, over two hundred scholarships. Not entirely sure how, but I didn’t get any of them. None. Zip. Nada. This left student loans. Welcome to reason number one that I didn’t finish college.
I applied to one school. Just one. Luckily I’m fairly smart and did well on my SATs and I was accepted into Texas Christian University in Fort Worth. I jumped up and down and ran back from the mailbox and all that other typical reaction stuff. I attended TCU for three semesters as a writing major. I enjoyed it, don’t get me wrong, but a part of me felt like I was wasting my time. Basics like math and science weren’t going to help me. Why do I need a degree to write? It’s not like having a degree will make a difference to a publisher.
After the first semester I had a meeting with my advisor about the classes I wanted. I asked her if she could tell me how many writing majors there were in my class. Every group thing I’d been apart of began with people telling their major and I hadn’t come across a single writing major. I had started to feel like I was the only one. I wasn’t, though, there were seven of us. Seven, out of a class of 1300. Couldn’t help but think that might mean it wasn’t a degree worth pursuing. There were tons of English majors, sure, but they mostly wanted to be teachers. Then there were the journalist majors, but I haven’t ever had interest in that branch of writing. I just wanted to write books. Where were my fellow novelists?
After the second semester, I got a job and an apartment with my best friend. Over summer break I spent every free second on perfecting my books so maybe I’d get somewhere. When school started back up I realized how hard it was to have enough money for bills when you’re a full time student with a full time work schedule. And how hard it was to have a social life. How hard it was to have a full night’s sleep.
So after the year and a half of classes I didn’t really need, I didn’t enroll in classes for the next semester. I decided that I wasn’t going to learn my craft that way. Sure, I learned from the English teachers I managed to squeeze into my schedule, but I could always take a writing workshop on my own time if I feel like I need that kind of help again. Plus there’s plenty of how-to books in the world that I feel pretty certain I can figure this thing out on my own.
Now I’m in debt, of course, from those three semesters, but I don’t necessarily regret it. I made some good friendships and had fun. I packed my “college experience” into a short time so that I could get on with real life. All I’ve ever wanted to do was write and without math and science classes in my way, I can dedicate more of my time to what I really need to work on. I’m still on a strict schedule, but I can work, have a social life, and get enough sleep now. Plus I’m really making progress on my getting published journey.