I am currently attending my 2nd quarter of college after 13 years of employment in the U.S. Coast Guard (USCG). I tried community college pre USCG in 2001, but did not take it very seriously. I was anxious to get out of the house and away from parents. I craved independence but didn’t know how to express that properly. My personal journey from 2001 to 2016 has led me back to trying to complete a college degree.
In 2001, fresh out of high school, college was a blast. I didn’t learn very much although succeeded in acquiring about 60 credits. I was more into socializing and baseball boys. I wanted to be a marine biologist. I cruised through all the Gen Ed fairly easy, and then biology came. I had to start putting actual effort into studying, but I didn’t make time for studying- I was too busy making plans for Thursday, Friday and Saturday nights! The big fat F I earned in Bio 101 was my first and last F I will ever receive in a college course. (MARK MY WORDS) It scared some sense into me. That was the moment I realized how UN-seriously I was taking college. Scared me so bad I joined the military. Haha.
I joined the USCG in 2003 as a marine mechanic and exited that profession in 2015. I sailed from the Arctic Circle to the Equator and the Panama Canal a couple times and lived in CA, HI, AK, and WA. I have changed my personal outlook on life multiple times. I know at 18 I was thinking about working at Sea World, but had no clue what paying rent and living on a budget and being away from home REALLY meant. (Truthfully don’t feel that much older or wiser than my 18 years old self, but I know I have learned some very very valuable life lessons.) The following picture sums up roughly those 13 years, 4 different states, 2 boat jobs and 2 land jobs.
After 13 years away from college and studying, I feel ready to commit and to take it seriously. I think this college experience will be dramatically different because I WANT this degree. I am motivated for a job as a mechanics trade school instructor upon completion and I know that is a realistic future goal.
School has changed a lot in just the last 10 years. My college experience is already drastically different as I’m taking a hybrid online/in class courses. I am 33 years old, and one of the youngest in my cohort of 25 students. Everyone is much older and working on second and third degrees. I completely felt at a disadvantage to all the 40 and 50 year old students in my first couple weeks. They all were way more computer savvy than me! It seemed like the time I took off from school to work and travel, the older students were busy learning the ins and outs of online courses and how to navigate through all up to date technologies. (I turned that into motivation though- if they can do it, so can I!)
So far, my second college experience has been wayyy more manageable. I’m finally ready. I’ve learned how to pay bills, manage time, and realize what’s most important to me. I am currently employed with a small cruise company and sailing around SE Alaska, so I’m still getting my travel in- but I know deep down if anything were to interfere with this degree I would let it all go temporarily to finish this new avenue I have started. **Below is my new makeshift study area.
I guess in closing I would like to say- it’s NEVER TO LATE for any type of education (or heck- its never to late to pursue something you think will make you happiest in the future!). Like I said above I’m early thirties taking a class with 40-60 year olds. I think the hardest part was learning how far schooling has come along and catching up to the advances in technology. My classmates are great and I learn very much from all their experience. Don’t let your age hold you back from something you want. Put EFFORT into what you want. Be happy. Take chances. Go for it!
**This pic was taken on my new cruise ship gig, just outside of Wrangell, AK