9 Things Finishing My Degree Late Taught Me

As we get further into June and graduation season comes to an end, I wanted to take this time to reflect on how failure has really taught me success.  Most people don’t know but  I’ve worked and provided for myself since the age of 16.  I’ve bought everything from my first car to my first degree and everything in between on my own.  So for many people out there, graduating is a paper signifying a rite of passage into adulthood.  But for me, it signified breaking the ongoing cycle of an inner city upbringing and changing the trajectory for my family.  Some might call that trivial, but let me tell you, as a first-generation college graduate to a single mother of 3 – I felt that pressure to finish and it was no easy feat.

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But throughout all those failures and tribulations I’ve learned so much.  And though I had to go through it alone,  I wouldn’t have wanted it any other way.   For one, I’ve learned to be more understanding and compassionate and less judgemental.  You never know what demons people are facing or what roadblocks they had to overcome to achieve the success they currently have.  For two, it’s how to be independent and how to HUSTLE because no one else is going to do this for you.  No matter what, I’ve always found a way to get things done and overcome any and all obstacles.  With that said I have the confidence to say there really is no stopping me.  And if I can do it, trust me there really is no stopping you either.  Although I’ve dropped out of college more times than I can count I’m proud to say ya girl is finally done and I’ve picked up so many other gems along the way.  Here are some of the most important ones;

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Not all money is good money.

While having to fund your own education and bills ain’t easy, I had to learn the hard way; Not all money is good money.  I was working a job that seemed super cool, but it drained me from the inside out.  It distracted me from the things I needed to get done.  I didn’t have the energy to write 10-page papers because I was working around the clock creating and managing client content, events, and stressed about things like – if I ever sent out that email?  Did I post for that client and *oh shxt* I forgot to send out the calendar invites for that meeting.  In short, the money I was making was not worth the time I was spending.  It also wasn’t good enough for my long term goals so I resigned.  The same goes for all you out there with goals and dreams but have a job just to get by.  Why do it to yourself?  Recognize that not all money is good money.

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Build your network

Going to any college whether it’s for your bachelors or masters isn’t just about reading books and passing tests.  This is a great opportunity to build your network with other like-minded individuals.  Don’t just form connections with your classmates, but with your professors, department chairs, and other influential professionals in your field as well.  Get to know them over brunch, coffee, or happy hour.  Attend events on campus, but also look up events in the city and/or neighboring area where you can form connections off the strength of still being a student.  Get to know these people on a first name basis and really forge meaningful connections with those people.    You never know where it will end up.

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You’re in Control 

Some days, you’re going to wake up frustrated with no end in sight.  This doesn’t just go for people in school trying to graduate.  With success comes time so it’s important to remember you’re in control.  You decide whether you’re going to finish that assignment or go out for the night.  You decide whether you’re going to wake up early or stay up late.  You decide how you’re going to react to the things that are not in your control.  So remember above all you are in control.

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Keep a solid crew around you

The support from my girls has really gotten me to a place that I could not have imagined without them.  All of my girls are not only beautiful but smart, outgoing, and super supportive as well.  From nurses to MBA’s to models, to real estate agents, I can confidently say all of my girls are out here getting it and it keeps me motivated.  It’s important to keep a solid crew of women and friends around you because there’s nothing more powerful than successful women supporting other successful women.

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Be smart about your finances

Unless your parents are paying for your education, or you’re on scholarship, you’ll be going into debt to afford your education. Going to school means making a huge financial commitment that can easily derail you if you’re not prepared.  Educating yourself about your degree program is important but educating yourself about how loans work, how to budget accordingly, how to have a savings plan in place, and how to limit spending are essential and are all important factors that graduating late taught me.

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Take your time

I’ve had to learn the hard way how to take my time.  I’ve repeated so many classes and I’ve\ wasted so much money because I didn’t know how to prioritize and plan accordingly to what my upcoming semester would look like.  I know there are people out there that can relate.  If there’s anything I would tell my younger self it’s that It’s important to recognize what you’re getting yourself into and plan accordingly.

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College Is Really Meant For Mature Adults

There’s so much emphasis on going to college right out of high school (which is something I initially did)  but I’ve had conversation after conversation with not only my friends but with some of my older classmates as well.  All of which stated they got the most out of their education when they were older, more mature, and could challenge the curriculum based on the experiences they faced.  Going back to that point, I found I was most engaged and intrigued by what I was reading once I was older and had a better understanding of how the world worked.

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Understand this a time commitment.

We all know it’s a given that showing up to class isn’t enough, but…. sometimes relationships with people or jobs will need to be compromised.  School is a huge time commitment and it’s important to understand where you are in life and what you are willing and not willing to sacrifice.

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Don’t let people tell you school isn’t for everyone.

During the times I’ve felt weak and even the times I’ve felt strong I’ve had so many people tell me “You don’t need school to be successful,” or “You don’t need a degree to do things.”  To all of these people, Please PLEASE Please stop downplaying the power of education. Even if I never use my degree my education is something no one can take away.  My education has given me life lessons that no one else could give me and has expanded my ways of thinking x 100.  Do you need school to survive? No, But please do not listen to any of these people.

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All in all, whether you’re graduating late, going into a higher education program,  or decided school wasn’t for you make sure you are learning from your mistakes. Forget about the judgment and “embarrassment” and just stay in your own lane.  I’ve gotten denied from the things I’ve wanted and still pushed for them.  I’ve had my fair share of compare and despair but I still kept pushing. Whatever it is that you’re doing in life, just keep pushing.  Trust me between shame, failure, and inadequacy, I’ve felt it all.  And while these emotions may knock at your door, you cannot allow them to stay as your guests!  As always thank you for reading! Let me know your comments on Instagram! And see you in my next post. IMG_7234.jpg

 

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