Just keep going

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Students walking through downtown Detroit near Spirit of Detroit statue.

After three years of college, at 20 years old, I left Mt. Pleasant to move back home from CMU. My reasons for leaving were numerous: It was expensive and my family didn't want to take out student loans, I had roommates who bickered and prioritized partying, etc. 

I regretted this decision for the next 12 years, which was the time it took me to finish my bachelor’s degree. I should have taken out student loans, moved into a single dorm room and figured out a way to stick it out. Many adults encouraged me to stay in Mt. Pleasant and finish, but it was easier to give up and go home.

When I left college, I truly believed I would only take one year off. I would work for a year to afford tuition and then transfer to Wayne State. I had several jobs, but because I was only qualified for hourly work, none of them had a set schedule. When it was time to commit to a class schedule and two hours of commute time, I found that not being able to afford tuition without working several jobs created a vicious cycle of needing to work to go to school, not being able to go to school because of work. More and more impediments presented themselves each year that went by.

Every career to which I aspired required a minimum of a bachelor’s degree, and at every job I worked, I was the lowest person on the org chart. I felt less than my co-workers because they all had degrees, and whenever I would try to promote, my supervisors would remind me that I was not qualified. At age 29, my husband encouraged me to look into a program for returning non-traditional students that would help me shorten my time to a degree. I had an infant and two toddlers to care for as a returning student, but I was able to take one evening class a week while my husband was home. With his support, I graduated at 32. I met a few professors who encouraged me to keep going, and I now have master’s degrees.

If I could go back, I would do whatever I had to do to stay in school. But as a young person, I felt I knew best about my life choices. I have amassed a wicked skillset at the wildly dangerous, stressful, and mentally exhausting jobs I had before I graduated, but I could have avoided so much heartache and sleep deprivation if I had just finished my degree earlier.

If you have obstacles to staying in school and finishing your degree, I strongly encourage you to reach out for assistance from the multitude of Wayne State staff and faculty who want to help you.

Financial aid and scholarships

  • If finances are an issue, find out what is and is not possible for you in the Office of Student Financial Aid
  • The private scholarship application for all Wayne State students is open from October 1 through March 1 every school year and requires only one application for all university and department awards. It is worth the 15 minutes you will spend, and may help you raise money you do not have to pay back
  • If you are from Michigan, you can use the state’s scholarship search tool to find awards that may be available to you
  • If you are employed, ask your supervisor if your employer offers tuition assistance. If you are still a dependent of your parent(s), you can ask them if their employer offers tuition assistance, for which dependents often qualify
  • Attending part-time may be more affordable, and you can check out the Installment Payment Plan Menu in Academica, under Student Resources > Financial Records

Finding what fuels you

  • If your major just isn’t working out for you, or if you don’t feel passionate about what you are studying, check out this blog about how to pick a major that contains a ton of resources and ideas to help you
  • Your advisor can be an invaluable source of motivation and support. If you haven’t been seeing your advisor at least once per semester, make an appointment today at advisingworks.wayne.edu
  • You are always welcome to visit faculty during office hours or email them, to inquire about research opportunities for undergrads, or assistance with course deadlines

Getting help

  • If you need confidential support, you can make a request online for telehealth counseling through CAPS. You won’t have to leave your home to talk to someone, it is free for enrolled students and offers one-on-one, groups, workshops, and so much more
  • Lastly, feel free to hit me up if you would like to chat with an impartial adult who has been there

By Jill de Jesus, academic services officer III

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