Hi, I’m Jason. As the Social Media Manager here at EducationQuest, I write many of our technology blogs as well as some other topics to help you prepare for college. I am excited to write the first of a series of blogs that introduce each of our bloggers so you can learn more about who we are and our college journey.
Beginning My Journey
The start of my journey to college came prior to my first year of high school. I attended an info-session on International Baccalaureate and realized that college was not something that was a guarantee, at least in the sense that there are steps to take to get to a specific college. That meeting inspired me to be more proactive in my high school education. School came easy to me, not to make you hate me but I am that guy who showed up and seemed to do nothing to get my grade. Behind the scenes I was trying to balance in-class and outside education. What you can take from this is that there is a ton of value to what you learn outside the classroom in sports and extracurricular activities.
I was rarely challenged academically and that hindered my preparedness for college. In hindsight it would have been better for my teachers to push me and challenge me to invest more time. Without that I entered college unprepared for the investment needed. My first year of college I spent more time chasing opportunities outside the classroom than focusing on my courses, and it was apparent to my instructors.
In my first year of high school I thought I had almost everything figured out. I planned to either be a Veterinarian or Marine Biologist. I would attend Colorado State or UCLA on full-ride scholarships and graduate in four years. Keep reading, you’ll see I fail to stick to that plan. This year was just adjusting to high school with a lot of others. Our district decided that they would move 9th graders out of junior high into high school and my 9th grade year was the first of this transition, so 9th and 10th grade students were new to high school.
My high school did a great job of preparing students for college. I had an annual appointment with my counselor, who at the time was called an academic advisor. My first advisor was the best of the two who helped me. She talked about goals and suggested that I take AP classes early. Sophomore year I took my first AP class and it did not feel like it was that much harder than a normal class.
Junior year was when most of my college planning kicked in. I went on college tours when we traveled. I met with admissions reps at our high school to talk about what their school offered. And I quickly dismissed everything from these as I was set on Colorado State or UCLA. This was also my first and only attempt at the ACT and SAT. At the time UCLA required the SAT to I largely ignored the ACT. My score on the SAT was enough to gather some new interest from Ivy League colleges and more than enough to get into the two schools I focused on so a retake seemed pointless to me, much to the chagrin of my advisor at the time.
There was not much planning for college during my senior year. More AP classes and the exams. I finished my admissions applications and sent in loan documents. I made my decision to go to Colorado State at the beginning of the school year. UCLA was too expensive for my family. We were your typical middle-income family. My parents earned enough that grants were not in my future but not nearly enough where they could pay for college. I know a lot of you find yourself in that same position.
Scholarships were my best bet at achieving a degree without going into debt. I earned a few good ones my first year of college, had I stayed focus and continued along the planned path I would have been in a much better situation. I didn’t, and in the first six weeks changed my major for the first time. That one did not pan out long, apparently my fellow students did not appreciate my effect on the grading curve in organic chemistry. What would become a nearly weekly tradition I would change my major again. I did learn that I enjoyed being on a college campus.
Changing my major meant most of my scholarships were gone. Back then student loans were not limited by academic year. A combination of a lot of odd jobs and a return to my old pet store employment coupled with the student loans would get me through. I was a textbook example of the problem with no limit on student loans. I had no plan, but a consistent flow of loans kept me in school and alive.
Fast forward five years and a letter arrived from my college. There is a rule that you have to get a degree before you acquire 200 credit hours. I had a couple semesters to come up with a plan. Lucky for me I had a great academic advisor who helped me figure out what degree I could “buy” with the credits I accrued. Picked up a few minors as well and headed out into the “real world” wanting only to be back in class. And since I could not be a student forever, I figured the next best thing was to work at a college.
When my wife and I moved out here I started thinking that I would need an advanced degree to get a job at a public college and advance in the ranks. At the time I was thinking it would be nice to be a provost maybe even a president someday. I started my Master’s degree and loved being back in the research, both my own and helping my professors. Just like my undergrad my life changed along the way and I found a passion for technology and EducationQuest gives me the opportunity to use that passion in a rewarding way.
I hope you read my story and find something that you can relate to. Maybe it is that your path does not need to be defined and you can enjoy the journey. Maybe it is that there is more to learn than what is in your text book. Maybe it’s an example of what not to do, and you need to stick to a plan. It could be something entirely different.
Thanks for reading, good luck on your journey!