By Caitlyn McCrea | firstname.lastname@example.org
As I was sitting in the library, finishing up homework for the week I got an odd email.
My wedding venue wanted to know when I could come pay the $300 deposit.
After my 12:30 class, I drove to the Fountain of Youth to talk to the coordinator about my future wedding plans.
At 3:30, I was back in class.
I did not plan on being engaged while still finishing up my undergraduate degree. I also didn’t plan on graduating a full year behind my high school class. (It actually should have been longer than a year, but I’ve taken extra classes to make up the difference).
While my classmates are worried about what bar they should hang out in, I am planning my future. While they dream of finding true love, I already have.
I am not much older than some of them, but at times it feels like we are worlds apart.
On a daily basis I am worried about how to pay my bills on time—rent, car payment, student loans and wedding vendors. My fiancé and I are also talking about buying a house next year.
These are such adult things that I never thought I would be discussing while still in college.
But, as my personal life has moved forward rapidly in the past two years it feels as if my academic studies are at a standstill, even though for the last three years I’ve taken six classes a semester.
Balancing these two worlds is almost impossible, but somehow I am doing it.
School is not very forgiving to those of us who have other obligations.
The academic system is selfish, not wanting to be second best in attention. While working my full-time restaurant job, I am often in the backroom when we are slow, finishing up on homework. Papers are written in the dead of the night, and group projects are impossible to schedule.
Stress and anxiety over just getting through the semester are overwhelming. College started out as a fun adventure, meant to prepare me for the real world while studying subjects I enjoy. But for those of us who are nontraditional students, it’s so hard to balance all of our other obligations just to complete each assignment due.
I have also felt some serious social pressure from not graduating on time. The reason I take 19 credit hours a semester is because I feel a great weight on my back to finish before I am 24.
How crazy is that?
College should be fun: tough but fair. I think schools need to re-adjust their values and be more accommodating to those of us who work full time and have real life obligations other than academia.
Often I feel like a racehorse with a broken leg, trotting along as fast as I can but still not getting very far.
I know in the end it will be worth it, all of my balancing and juggling will pay off when I do eventually reach the finish line.
But for now, I will continue planning my wedding and doing homework, just hobbling along the best I can.