life · Random Thoughts

Don’t Start College Undecided

“Live as if you were to die tomorrow. Learn as if you were to live forever.” – Mahatma Gandhi

They said that the hardest story to tell is our own story. But today, I will talk about my experience and hope to enlighten young people and young immigrants who are undecided to embark on their college degree.

I’m a Filipino Immigrant and moved here in the States almost fourteen years ago. I was a nursing student in the Philippines when our family finally received our visas after waiting for more than twenty years. Since I was young, I did not have any choice but to give up on my studies and moved here. When I came here, I wanted to continue my nursing degree. No one really guided me on this, so I researched on how to attend college in this country. Since the nursing education requirements were different, I was advised to work on my nursing degree all over again. After transitioning to a new culture and experienced countless challenges with this country’s education system, I ended up graduating with a different college degree.

The point of this story is not about how I didn’t obtain a nursing degree, but how I failed to listen to my intuition. I listened to what my parents and others’ advice that I failed to know what I really wanted in life. So today, I want to help people out there to carefully decide whether going to college is right for them.

I’ve heard this advice countless times: “Get a degree that would yield a high-paying job”. Although this is somewhat true, it is not always the case for everyone. I know of some people who have followed this advice and failed. I know a woman who graduated from a nursing degree but failed the NCLEX exam several times. She was very frustrated because she couldn’t fulfill her parent’s dream. She now followed her passion to be an artist and continued  working in arts. Although she admits that it doesn’t give her good pay, she’s much happier and fulfilled.

After I received my bachelors degree five years ago, I worked for different types of jobs but never obtained a permanent position. I even moved to Hawaii and sold everything including my car just to get a job. Even though our culture doesn’t look down on adult children living with their parents, I felt awkward living with my parents after failing to secure a permanent and good-paying job.

I do not lack experience because I worked while going to school. I have joined different academic organizations, volunteered, participated in an internship, and obtained scholarship. I tried to ran an online clothing business to get some income, but I realized I needed major skills and finances to pull it off. After years of looking for a decent and permanent position, I decided to just continue furthering my education.

Surely, my experience was not all negative. I still considered my education valuable because I learned a lot of things. I enjoyed the knowledge that I obtained and were able to use them on my previous jobs. Certainly, I love meeting a diverse group of people and learned valuable lessons from my classmates and my professors. It’s during this hard times that I realized my priorities which are to maintain a healthy diet and exercise. I finally got rid of my insecurities and just write to further improve my writing skills. Someday, I would also like to help the needy especially the poor people in the Philippines.

My advice to young people, especially to the immigrants who are unsure whether they want to attend college; do it only if you can or your parents can pay for it. I advice you not to take out student loans if you can help it. Many people are now struggling to pay off their student loans. Follow your intuition and passion in life. Attend an affordable college or trade school. I also recommend you to read several articles and blogs that contain true life experience of ordinary people who experienced hardships during and after obtaining their college degree.

Lastly, there are no best college degrees out there because there isn’t any. It is still up to the individual’s perseverance and determination to follow their dreams and not follow someone else’ dreams. Good luck and may you fulfill your true passion in life!

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