In January of 2001, I took 16 credit hours at Miami University, and on January 18th of that same year, I quit my job so that my birthday would be the first day of what I consider to be the college experience. For the only time in college, I received enough financial aid to not only pay tuition, but to cover living expenses as well. It was the only time that college was just college, and I didn’t have to work. For that one dream semester, I felt like a typical Miami student.
It made me think about how easy college would’ve been without having to work. I think I had more free time then than I’ve ever had since. One of my friends actually said to me, “You have more free time than anyone I know.” I only studied and/or did homework for about 3 hours per week, and ended up with a 3.1 that semester. Honestly, at least as a junior, taking business classes meant very little reading outside of class, and I’ve always considered the business school to be one of the easiest schools within the university because of it.
I played a lot of pool that semester, and thoroughly enjoyed myself.
I wish everyone could experience college that way, at least for a full year. If I am in a position to allow my children to do so when they reach college, I absolutely will. I also believe everyone should have to work at least 20 hours while going to school full-time to experience that side of college as well, and understand what it’s like for people whose families haven’t been blessed enough to provide that kind of experience.
In the fall of 2001, I went back to work full-time. I took 20 credit hours, including a Math capstone, and worked 35-40 hours per week. I barely remember it. I do remember working til 2:30 am, and having a 9 a.m. class. I also, of course, remember 9-11. I was walking to class when two girls were talking about it, but I only heard them talking about a plane crash and thought they were talking about Aaliyah. It wasn’t until after my next class that I knew what happened.
In my management class, we watched the news, and talked about what was happening. I had been in the World Trade Center on September 8th, 2001. I flew out of LaGuardia airport on September 9th, 2001. I had been in New York City to see Michael Jackson perform at Madison Square Garden on September 7th. We thought about changing our flights to see him perform again on September 10th. The flights would’ve been changed to September 11th.
Afternoon classes were canceled that day. That was the only day of my college career where the university shut down.
In terms of the classes themselves, there’s not much else to say, or remember. It was very much a blur, but I do remember Number Theory. It’s still my favorite math class that I’ve ever taken.
Second semester was more of the same. I worked 35-40 hours per week while taking 19 credit hours, including my business capstone. I took Entrepreneurship as my capstone. It wasn’t yet offered as a minor, but the entire reason I became a business major was to help me run my music career better. The big project for the semester was a group project that included a 40 page business plan and a presentation. I put together a business plan for a music studio with the plan of actually opening it. I submitted the business plan to a bank, and they said the plan looked good, but I didn’t have any collateral so they turned down my loan, so I ended up still delivering pizzas after college.
I successfully petitioned a couple of classes, so when I walked in May of 2002, I only had one course left to take. That course was International Marketing. My last day of classes as June 21st. My graduation was May 5th, 2002, and it was one of the few years that Mother’s Day did not fall on graduation. I know she was proud of me on both days, though, and I still think about her when I make decisions. She has been, and will always be, a tremendous influence on my life.
The night of June 21st, I went out and got drunk for the first time in my life. Yes, I went all of college without getting drunk.
I did go back and get a second degree in Math and Stats by taking summer classes in 2007 and 2008, but that’s honestly of little consequence, other than the additional $19,000 in loans I took out to do so.
There you go, my college experience. I’m proud of it, and very thankful that I finished, even if I’ve never used my degrees for a career. My education is an important part of who I am.