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Tiffany YoungThe Return of a Long Lost Student

by Tiffany Young

It had been years since I had been in the classroom. Honestly, I had given up. I didn’t think school was for me. I had developed a career in the airlines and never gave college another thought. In my heart, I knew it was a shame. I had always dreamed of having multiple degrees, or even just one.

The knowledge itself that I would take away from college was another thing I was sad to think I would never be exposed to. I read often, and the library was my favorite place to visit on lazy afternoons. I had a friend, Joe, a retired New York fire fighter, who told me that a college degree tells future employers that a person is capable of completing something, regardless of the actual degree. His emphasis on the importance of a college degree really made an impact on me.

As time passed, I began to toy with the idea of college. When I mentioned my idea to others I receive responses such as, “Why would you want to do that?”
“Isn’t that a waste of time at your age?” “You already have a career.”

The few supportive responses were kind and encouraging, but not enough. Self-doubt was still lingering. Negative self-talk was not very inspirational, either. I continued to dig my pity hole and I swore that if I attempted college I would fall and never get back up.

I look back now and see how over the years I labeled myself as, “not a school person.” Looking back even further, the only subject I truly struggled with in high school was algebra. Algebra was extremely difficult for me. Between summer school and staying after school for tutoring, I eventually gave up. Giving up led me to not pushing myself to my fullest in the other subjects that I could have excelled at. Failure is difficult. I realize now that it was very easy for me to assume that because I failed at one thing, I would fail at everything.


Although I didn’t believe in myself, I met one person who did, Jeff. He turned into my boyfriend and later my husband. He had been pushing the idea of returning to college since I met him. I responded with every excuse in the book. I blamed finances, time, motivation, and the old, “It has been so long since I have studied. How could I possibly go back?” It took him over three years to convince me I was capable of returning to school. When I shot back an excuse of why I could not go to college, he would give me examples of how to overcome every excuse I dished out.

I checked on some scholarships from high school to see if I could still use them and they were still available. It wasn’t much but it gave me a push. Nothing was holding me back now. Finally, I took the placement tests. I did outstanding on the English and Writing. As for the math, well I did as expected. But the counselor said it wasn’t bad considering I hadn’t solved an equation in quite some time.

The next thing I knew, I was enrolled. I took an algebra class and writing 101 my first semester. Would you believe I ended the semester with a 4.0? I actually got an A in algebra!

Sure, it took quite a bit of work on my part. But I did it. On the other hand, I rediscovered my passion for writing, a pastime I had long forgotten. Two years
later, I am two classes away from complete my general studies courses and I am just a few more away from my Associates of Arts Degree. I also found myself on the dean’s list and part of the two-year college honor society, Phi Theta Kappa. Never in my dreams did I think I was honor-society material.

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