Why I Did It
I have a mild rant for you. Bear with me for a moment.
I started my higher education journey as an adult in my late twenties, and at the community college level. Many factors contributed to this but to make a long story much shorter: I didn’t have a particularly positive experience with the American school system in grade school through high school. This was compounded by the lack of familial support in any meaningful way and drama created by other individuals. For a full decade, I had been struggling with trauma in my personal life and working to foster more healthy independence, essentially freedom from the past. All of this aided in deepening my existing mistrust in the education system, or at the very least, the idea of “schooling” as I had experienced it.
To be frank, the American education system feels one-size-fits-all, and I usually don’t fit. Ironically, I’ve never been diagnosed with any learning disabilities. However, the curriculums aren’t impressive. The environment is typically distracting or uncomfortable. The students are incredibly immature for their ages. The majority of the teachers, counselors, and administration I encounter appear incapable of compassion, patience, or understanding for the trials of life. I’m scaling back quite a bit on this topic. I can devote an entire blog post, possibly even a series, to how the education system has failed my generation and the current generation coming of age – and what can be done differently.
However, today isn’t that day.
I finished my Associate’s degree at the local community college here in Rhode Island in the Spring 2020. It was not easy even before the lockdown began, as I had signed on to take 15 credits, which equates to five 3 credits courses. The first few weeks of going completely online was an absolute train wreck. I dropped the History class I had wanted to take purely because the professor was a techno-phobe and was unwilling to adjust in a way that was best for everyone, and was extremely unwilling to learn how to use the online teaching platform or help students when there was an issue – an issue that only existed because he didn’t know what he was doing, wouldn’t admit it, or seek help so we could all move on with the semester. Even prior to the lockdown, I was already strongly considering dropping his class, his general demeanor, attitude towards the subject matter, and inappropriate commentary/off-topic babbling was too much to put up with for a whole semester. It was no wonder he had so few students and so many drop outs!
After I completed my two-year degree I was rather indecisive about what major I wanted to pursue, but my gut had told me I wanted to go to Rhode Island College originally. I oscillated quite a bit between History, Environmental Science, Sustainability, Anthropology, and even briefly considered Political Science (what the hell was I thinking there?). My problem was too many options, too many interests, too many possible pathways, and a lot of pressure to settle quickly and jump into finishing the rest of my Bachelor’s degree. It wasn’t until I withdrew and had some time away from other, including social media, that I was able to settled on my long-time love of History and Anthropology.
Then I was somehow convinced (rather than listening to my own gut/needs) to go to the University of Rhode Island, rather than my first pick. I had even applied to RIC and was accepted. Why on Earth did I allow myself to get caught up in URI? Possible prestige, more so than Rhode Island College? Maybe. More expensive? Definitely. Better teachers? Doubtful. Better resources? Depends on the student and the major. Needlessly long commute? Yes. No support for commuter student? Nope! You have to pay to register your car to park on campus and there is only TWO parking lots at either end of that rather large campus for commuters. Not really impressed, URI. Also: if you withdraw before the end of the semester, you get slammed with a giant bill that was otherwise covered by fin aid, and then have to jump through hoops to prove you had a legitimate issue that cause you to withdrew to qualify for something called a Compassionate Waiver. That whole experience on top of why I withdrew in the first place left a sore taste in my mouth about the University of Rhode Island. “Not a good fit” would be an understatement.
So, why did I withdraw?
Simply put, I pulled out due to the physical, mental, emotional burnout I was still struggling to process from the events of 2020. Both the global pandemic that affected us all inescapably (and likely in irrevocable ways) plus what occurred in my personal life ; then COVID hit close to home shortly before Thanksgiving through my housemate who works in healthcare but luckily she survived (and I somehow managed to.. not catch COVID?). Then my great grand mother died of COVID in the nursing home three days before my birthday in February..
It was the straw that broke the deal for me. I couldn’t deal with the stress of everything that was taking a toll on me, as well as do full time 4 credit courses in Uni as a commuter student. I needed to pause. Center myself. Get some much needed therapy, and bring my home and life back into balance. As of May, I’m feeling more stable and bouncing back quite nicely.
I haven’t quit, despite a part of me feeling a wee bit discouraged, considering how long I’ve been trying to finish this whole degree. When I pause long enough to reframe my tired and pessimistic brain, I question myself : with only two years left, why quit when I’m halfway there? It would be doing myself, and likely the part of the world or fields that need or want me, a huge disservice in the long-term.
So for now, I’m taking a break and by the end of this month (currently May), I will finalize the decision to return for either the Fall semester or wait until Spring 2022 and just do independent study and blog in the interim. I will be contacting RIC by the end of this month, once I decide the semester I return, and will likely walk through the whole process once again.