College in My Thirties — Continuing to Pursue the Dream — Part One — Dreams Are Hard to Make Into Reality

 

IMG_2348
Enjoying a nice evening at Epcot, Walt Disney World Resort

I begin this article the morning after one of the most stressful days I’ve had since I began pursuing my education again in the fall of last year.

I’ve just taken a mid-term MATH exam! All I have to say is, going back to school in your thirties isn’t easy. A lot of people do it and succeed. I have faith I will, but as I said, it isn’t easy.

More to come on that. First here’s a little bit of history.

There was a time when I was very focused on blogging about my school experiences after returning from some time away from the classroom. Now it’s time to begin that work again!

About eight and a half years ago, I packed up my college life in boxes, stored them at my parents’ house and packed my little Chevy Tracker to the roof to set out on a new journey working at Walt Disney World.

I had literally bankrupt out of school. It had come to a point where my schooling was so expensive, I could only pay for tuition with loans, had no money to pay for a place to live and my part-time job was only three days a week earning pennies.

This realization was no easy task. I had built my life in Mobile, AL. At this point, I had lived there off and on for 6 years. Four and a half of those years had been devoted to the University of Mobile. I had amazing friends who I still call my family. A lovely church with some lovely people had taken me under their wing and I was enjoying being able to help lead worship on Sundays with my friend John Michael and the rest of our crew.

I loved my life there.

Around the beginning of July 2011, I was in the midst of putting all the logistics together for my return to school in the fall of that year and came to the dismaying understanding that things weren’t going to work out the way I had hoped to continue and finish my degree at UM.

I was heartbroken. I had no idea what to do, and I didn’t want to move back home again after having done so for a brief stint a year or so before this.

Since my entire life to this point had been devoted to performing and entertainment, I started trying to think of a way I could maybe do that for a living for a while and perhaps save some money to come back to school in a few years or so.

Fast forward to the end of August 2011 and I was in Orlando, FL to begin my career at Disney.

My original intention had been to maybe work at Disney for a couple of years and then hopefully move back to Mobile to go back to school. The Lord definitely works in mysterious ways!

Spoiler alert… I’m still in Florida.

During my first two years of living here, I didn’t think about school once. I was very focused on literally trying to do all the things. For someone like me who had only been to Disney World a handful of times, I was in heaven. I spent so much time going to the parks and taking in all the other things there are to do in Orlando. Even after 8 years, there’s still so much I have yet to see.

Somewhere around late spring, early summer 2014, I had the realization I didn’t have much of a chance in advancing my career the way I wanted to without some more learning, or without a degree. I made the decision I was going back to school online for a couple of semesters and then I would move back to Alabama and attend a different school to finish my degree, but instead of in musical theatre, Broadcast Journalism.

news-644847_1920
I decided in 2014 my passion for news, truth and information should be put to good use by finishing my Bachelor’s degree in Broadcast Journalism

I registered for two classes and kinda took on more than I could handle. At this point, it had been a few years now since I had been in school and I wasn’t prepared for taking online classes. I had never done it before. I had no idea what to expect but went in with a very positive attitude about succeeding.

From here, things get a little bit fuzzy for a few months. I do remember the next couple of those months were very rough for me. I had no idea whatsoever on how to manage my time and plan out my week of assignments. By the time the add/drop deadline had come and gone, I was panicking but still trying to push through two classes of work while also working a full-time crazy schedule at Disney.

During all of this, I was also making preparations to move back to Alabama to focus completely on school. Yea, 25 year old me was crazy and confused.

It all came to a head toward the end of that summer of 2014 when my mother was visiting me. I was in the middle of a semester of classes. I had packed up most of my stuff with the intention of putting in my two weeks at the end of my mom’s visit and then pack my car up and move back to Alabama.

In the midst of making those plans, I was still very happy with everything I was doing in Florida and I didn’t want to leave. Mama could tell I was conflicted and I remember us having a very specific conversation about if I was happy here right now, then I should stay and keep taking classes online for as long as I could until there were none left to take online. Eventually for a journalism degree, at that time, I was going to have to attend classes on campus.

So I didn’t leave Florida. I ended up continuing to mismanage my time and got very behind in those two classes I was taking — the add/drop date came and went. I ended up just quitting and failing both classes which I had been so excited to start just a month or so earlier.

For the next year and a half, I completely forgot about school. I was living my best life and enjoying every second of it. At one point I decided I was going to try and make my own career and do a blog and a YouTube video podcast of “news” shows. This was short-lived due to the time I didn’t have to devote to consistency.

Fast forward to spring 2015. By this point, a lot of things were beginning to change for me at work and I decided now was the time to start planning the move back home I had tried two years prior, and get serious about finishing my degree. The school I had attended in 2013 online, agreed to let me register again for classes.

interview-1018333_1920
To date, the “Interviewing & Information” class I took in the summer of 2015 is my proudest academic achievement.

I enrolled in an “Interviewing & Information” class. I had never been more excited to take a class in my entire life. I finished that class with a 97! I even went to the college up in Alabama and met with professors. They gave me a tour of their wonderful journalism building. I was so excited about this prospect. It was then decided. At the end of 2015, I was moving back home and starting classes on campus in the spring of 2016!

Or so I thought…

One thing important to note here is when you spend significant time away from something, sometimes you may forget details that are very important to know in terms of the logistics of being a student in a university.

This being said, I didn’t know as much at the time. My folly led to a grave mistake. As summer was nearing its end, I decided to register for my next round of classes that would begin in the fall. I didn’t want to overwhelm myself after such a great summer semester, so I only registered for 4 credit hours.

A few weeks into the semester once the add/drop date had come and gone, I was beginning to be worried because I had yet to hear anything from the financial aid office about my student loan. Upon a couple of inquiries, I learned I was ineligible to receive federal financial aid because I wasn’t registered for enough credit hours for the semester.

I had no money to pay for school.

no-money-4865814_1280
Without having any money for school, I was unable to continue registering for and taking classes

Also… Did I mention this was also after the add/drop date?

Unfortunately, the only two options I had were to remain in the class, get kicked out because I couldn’t pay and then receive a failing grade. Option two was a compromise. The school agreed to let me out of the class without a failing grade, but I would still owe them in full for the class.

I went with option two.

Naturally, I was unable to come up with $1200 by the end of the year, so I was forced once again to put school aside. I also remained in Florida for a second time.

Within the next year, I discovered that due to this outstanding balance I had with this particular university, I was unable to get accepted to any other school because I was unable to obtain my transcript.

Eventually, the balance was sent to collections and then a long road through the wilderness began.

To be continued…

This article was originally posted on Medium. To view the original post follow this link:
https://medium.com/@calebgraham/college-in-my-thirties-continuing-to-pursue-the-dream-part-one-dreams-are-hard-to-make-into-d495ffbdace

 

One thought on “College in My Thirties — Continuing to Pursue the Dream — Part One — Dreams Are Hard to Make Into Reality

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s