Throughout high school I would dream away at all the things that I could possibly be and do when I graduated and moved on to college. I thought law, medicine, nursing, business, travel, entrepreneurship, and what I really could do to leave my mark on the world...a legacy. Really, I had some pretty big dreams. I didn't want to go through life working in a mediocre job, with a mediocre salary, stuck where I started; in the retail world.

Currently, I am 25 and guess what I am doing with my life! YUP! Working in the retail world, in a mediocre job, with a mediocre salary. HARUMPF! I know I am not alone, and I know that I am not the only person looking at their life right now and asking "What happened!?"

I left home on the same day that I graduated high school, a story that I begrudgingly touch on -no elaborations will be made here, and found myself without much guidance through events in my young life that I needed guidance the most. BUT I trudged on...through different jobs, through career training, through sickness, through poverty...not realizing that I had lost something: MY DREAMS!!! As I entered survival mode at the age of 18 I forgot what was most important to me -becoming something. Looking back a bit, I guess I really didn't lose them wholly. I transformed them into a drive to succeed at what I was doing at the time...never really looking forward.

I worked in retail, I became a CNA, I worked for a credit card company, I helped someone start a business, I volunteered at a hundred different places, I became a store manager (TWICE), I sucessfully drove my store's business through its final days of liquidation (TWICE). I feel like I can do anything that is put in front of me with all these experiences and YET I cannot seem to grasp getting back into school.

After the last time I closed my store I decided "THIS IS IT! I REALLY AM GOING TO DO IT THIS TIME!" And then I got a full time job as an assistant manager for a retail company that I don't believe in...I had to survive. It has been a year since and the economy is not getting any better, I had to take a pay cut when I transitioned from job to job, I can barely afford to live, my car has died, my roommate sucks, the water keeps getting deeper...and I am running out of energy to stay afloat. I guess you can call that inspiration.

I do think that you can call my "time off" from school a blessing in disguise. I have had the opportunity to make the mistakes a college student would normally make, without the risk of losing my scholarship, missing classes, or flunking out. I have done the party thing, I have drank so much I passed out, I tried recreational drugs, I had promiscuous sex and failed relationships, I've been an activist and humanitarian, and I have developed long lasting friendships. I also have had the opportunity to try different fields that interest me and to develop a plan a and b. SO, now I have to figure out how to enact these plans. The decisions though are overwhelming.

Plan A and B are so different that I have decided to start as an Undeclared Freshman or General Studies. It is all right by me that I don't go head on into the specific major for A and B as I can focus on getting some core courses out of the way and build my academic reputation back up. From there it gets fuzzy...

Do I go full time? Part Time?
Should I work while in school or focus on class work and live off of aid, grants, and loans?
Should I take the basic courses at a Community College and transfer to a 4yr school after a year?

My Ideal plan would be to go to school full time, work part time, live off campus, start off at a 4 year school and continue on out.

The reality is:
A 4 year school requires that you pay for the semester in full before you attend classes
I will not have the money up front living paycheck to paycheck
Living paycheck to paycheck is my only option until I have a degree
I will not be able to afford to live off of campus, maintaining an apartment, on a part time job's salary
After working so many years in retail, my credit is shot and I don't think I will be eligible for loans and I have no cosigner
It will take about $30,000 a year to successfully maintain an apartment, go to school, have school supplies and the internet, and necesities
That is alot of loan $ ... even after FASFA, Aid, and grants...I am sure
I make $30,000 a year in my FT job only BEFORE taxes...
If I live on campus I will have no legal residency off campus
I have no car and cannot commute to many places (public transportation is TERRIBLE in CT) -limits me to 2 schools if I do not dorm
Plan A is Nursing -which is very competitive- so I would HAVE to start off undeclared or in General Studies

AND that's about where I get every time before I freak out and wind up changing my job again...I need some advice.

Whats the best way for me to go back to school? Weaning into it or the bandaide method? Should I try to live off loans and aid and not work or should I maintain my full time job too?

This is the biggest decision I have ever made and it has turned out to be the most complicated...so, I decided to poll the audience.