Hopefully, you all read part one of this series. If you didn't, please do so now. Go on. I'll wait.
Everyone caught up? Good. Let's continue. As promised, I shall now engage in an autobiographical anecdote.
I didn't go to college right after high school. It's true! I didn't. And I don't get shunned at parties or spat upon when I walk down the street.
It's not that I didn't want to, or even that I didn't have any business being in university. Quite the contrary. I went to a fine public high school—a magnet school, even—where I did well in classes and scored well enough on the required standardized tests to be named a National Merit Finalist. Seems like things should have been set, right?
Wrong. The program I'd counted on; nay, the program that was promised to me was later unceremoniously yanked away. You see, I applied to The University That Must Not Be Named, which had a guaranteed full scholarship for National Merit Finalists. The whole enchilada—room, board, books, tuition, a trip to Europe during the third summer; you name it, they promised it. So, like someone who'd never heard an old maxim about putting all one's eggs in one basket, that was the only place I bothered to put in an application.
I'll wait here until you stop laughing.
Yeah. I got a call early on Monday of my senior year spring break from a very polite admissions counselor from The University That Must Not Be Named. She explained that the scholarship that I "had been interested in" was no longer on the table due to budget cuts. Yes, those were her exact words. Now, I don't know if you've had one of those moments where everything just sort of slows down and you can distinctly hear your future shattering into a million different pieces—in fact, I hope you haven't had one of those moments—but that's how this felt. That was my plan; that's where I was going to get a degree. WHAT THE HELL TO DO NOW?
Well, the answer was that I didn't know. And wow, did that ever suck. It was embarrassing and humbling to explain to all of my friends—all of whom were going to college—that, uh, well, I just didn't know what I would be doing. Remember that part about this sucking? Multiply that by about 37, and that's how talking to my friends felt. And there was still the little matter of what to do next, and how to pay my bills (for reasons I won't get into here, I'd been living on my own since age 15).
So I went to work. At what, you ask? At a dead-end warehouse job, working nights loading and unloading big trucks. Oh, and remember that part about this experience sucking? Yeah, that whole feeling just got more intense. This is not to say that this kind of work (and, indeed, all of what comfortable people consider "menial" labor) doesn't need to get done, and isn't valuable, but that's not an insight an 18-year-old with dreams of full scholarships and university-paid trips to Europe can be expected to have.
What, then? Will our dashing protagonist remain frustrated? Will he retreat to the woods and offer banal insights from the shores of a small pond? Or will he write insipid vampire romance novels and go to sleep each night atop a giant pile of money*? Stay tuned for the next installment of this riveting series!
*Not bloody likely, or he wouldn't be holding down a day job.
Are you applying for scholarships? Did this scare the crud outta you?
Related post: What Happens If I Don't Get Into the College I Want?