I started college with the intent to major in accounting and graduate with my bachelor’s degree in three years. I told everyone that in four years, I would have my bachelor’s and my master’s of accountancy. Some people were supportive, and some told me I couldn’t do it. I was determined to prove to everyone that I could do it. I would show them all.
I came into college with one semester’s worth of credits from high school and the drive to do amazing things. I knew how to “do school”.” I had a 4.2 GPA in high school, and I was ready to commit to my college classes the same way I had in high school. I would take summer classes every summer, and I’d get it done as quickly as possible. I wasn’t going to be one of those people who say their best years were college. I had a whole life to live, so this part was going to be spent on school and school alone. For my freshman year, I managed to do that. I took my first set of summer classes, I got As, and I was on track. Classes were harder than I thought they’d be, but I managed.
By spring of my second year, I was considered a junior. I was doing it! I was ahead, and I continued to keep up my progress. I applied to be a Resident Assistant (RA) because I thought I’d enjoy it, and I thought I could handle it. In February of my second year, I was hired to be an RA starting fall of my third year of school, and I signed up for more summer classes. However, those summer classes acted as a breaking point for me. I hadn’t had a true break since before I started college, and I was getting burnt out. My summer classes were harder than I could handle, and I faced personal problems that only made things more difficult; I had broken computer while I was taking an online class, and I had miscalculated my expected financial aid and was presented with a $6,000 bill halfway through the summer. I thought I’d have to drop my second summer class and move off campus in order to avoid paying a bill that big. I called my mom crying so many times that summer because I was overwhelmed, and I didn’t think I could handle it. My family was in another state, and I was struggling to figure out my finances along with a nearly impossible class.
I believe if I had given myself a break before this happened, I would have managed much better, but I was a wreck and in a state of high stress. I considered dropping my RA job before it started, I was convinced I was a failure and I couldn’t handle another semester of classes, let alone the responsibilities of the RA job.
But I toughed it out. I took out loans for my summer semester, and I signed up for fall classes. I borrowed my roommate’s computer, and I’d go to do my work in the college of business on their computers. I passed both of my summer classes and made it out the other side. So when fall semester of my third year began, I started as an RA, and I gave myself only four classes to take. I knew this semester would be a difficult one because I was beginning my upper level accounting classes, and I was starting a new job that required a lot of attention. My advisor told me I could graduate this summer if I took full course loads for the next three semesters, giving me the opportunity to accomplish what I originally set out to do and graduate in three years.
But I said no. I would not push myself any harder than I had to. I can take my time because there is no reason I should be making myself miserable. I’m actually ahead just enough that I have room for a few “filler” classes, since I have to take four classes a semester to keep financial aid. I am slowing down and learning to enjoy the time I have in college. I’m actually looking at doing a study abroad this summer. I no longer intend to get my master’s straight away. I’m having to change my biographies on all my scholarships and LinkedIn profile. I haven’t lost my ambition, but my priorities have changed.
Before, I was convinced I had to work myself to the limit so I could be impressive and make the most money I could possibly make. Part of me still wants to be that career person. Now, I see that I am worth more than my earning potential and that nothing I do will matter if I’m so stressed I can’t make it through a day without crying. I’ve changed my perspective to focus on learning, rather than rubbing my success in everyone’s face. I’m still an accounting major. I still want to have the career I always dreamed of, but now my way of getting there is changing a little.