I Waited to Go to College, and I'm Glad I Did

I waited to go to college for two years, and it’s the best thing I ever did.

 

All throughout my senior year of high school, I had numerous people ask what my plans were after high school. When they asked if I wanted to go to college I would laugh and tell them I wasn’t planning on going to college. At that time, I was also going to a vocational school for Culinary Arts, so I was quite certain I would never need college. 

 

Graduation came around and some of my best friends went off to university, others went to the military, and then I stayed home and worked. My first full-time job was being a dietary aide for a long-term care facility. Many days were spent working from 8 am to 8 pm. I grew close with the residents, staff, and the paychecks weren’t terrible, but I knew that this was not where I wanted to be the rest of my life. 

 

A year after starting that job, I quit and became a dietary aide at a different long-term facility. I also picked up a second job as a banquet server. At this point in life, I was starting to grow unsure of what I wanted to do with my career. I remember going home and telling my parents I was thinking about going to college and they were both super supportive of it. 

 

What was the most difficult for me was figuring out how to get financial aid, scholarships, loans, and taking the SAT’s without the help of my high school guidance counselors. I knew that I wanted to go back to school for a hospitality degree, but I did not want to go to culinary school. I also knew I wanted to stay in-state because of how high out of state tuition rates could get. This limited how many schools I could go to with my degree, but it came down to a few schools. 

 

IUP had a special place in my heart after I went to visit a close friend for a weekend. I also checked out schools like East Stroudsburg University, Seton Hill University, and Temple University. Of all the schools I looked up online, I only applied and got accepted into East Stroudsburg and IUP. I toured East Stroudsburg but what ultimately led me to make my decision was that I could see IUP as my home away from home. I could see myself there for the next four years and that’s when I decided that I wanted to become a Crimson Hawk. 

When I told my coworkers at home I wanted to go to college, they were extremely excited for me and about a week before I left, my boss got me a cake and we had a celebration at the end of my shift. My two best friends came over before I left for my freshman year to send me off. I was so excited to move across the state and start my college journey, but I was also really nervous. My mom and dad drove up behind me to help me move into my dorm for freshman year and there a good bit of tears shed, but happy ones. 

Going from working full-time for two years to putting my head back in the books was a HUGE transition. Compared to working, college had a LOT of free time, and it was learning how to balance all the extra time I had. These were filled with studying, part-time jobs, time with friends, workout sessions at the gyms, Walmart and Sheetz adventures, and a few spontaneous Pittsburgh trips. In my one year at IUP, I have made the dean's list both semesters and gotten accepted into an honors society (Phi Eta Sigma).

 

I waited two years to go to school, and I felt it was one of the best decisions I ever made for myself. I feel more applied to my studies and I know what my goals are. I have gotten to be able to see Western Pennsylvania and I have made some amazing friends that I would have never met if I never came to IUP. Even in my “gen eds,” I feel that I have learned skills that will make me a better individual when it’s time to move into my future career. Being a 21-year old sophomore can be weird to explain to others in my classes, but it isn’t anything I would change for the world.