When I was 36, I decided it was time to go back to school. I was married, had three kids; ages 6, 8, and 11, and was a stay-at-home mom. I had worked a few part-time jobs in 10 years and really had no marketable skill set—other than knowing how to work a cash register or stock produce. I was smart, but felt like I had no direction. I went to a college information night with my youngest sister and came home knowing I was going to enroll as soon as possible.
My husband was not as thrilled about it as I was, even though I had told him for years I was going to go to college as soon as the kids were all in school. The rest of my family was happy for me, and my kids were excited. They wanted to know if it was like their school, would I have a lot of homework, would I still go to their school functions and participate in activities…they had concerns that I had not thought about before. I was honest with them and told them I would have a lot of homework, but I would make sure that my schedule fit theirs so we could all still do things together. That made them feel better.
My first day of class was so strange. I was probably the oldest person there, even older than my instructor who had just finished her Master’s degree in Psychology. I think she was around 30 years old. Most of the students were between 18 and 25, so I thought of them as kids but I never said out loud. I got over feeling like I stood out and did what I was there to do. I was THAT student; front row, notebook out, pens at the ready, book open, taking notes and asking questions. I was very eager to absorb everything I could. I got all A’s my first semester, and again my second semester. The first few semesters there, I ended up on the Dean’s List and Merit list.
Around the beginning of my second year at college, I separated from my husband. This was a very stressful time, my kids had to switch schools, I had to find a permanent place to live- I was staying with family- and still be able to get myself to school. Some of my grades slipped and I had to withdraw from one of my classes because the load was too much. I was devastated that I was not on the Dean’s List for that semester. I was hard on myself, cried a lot, and felt like taking a break from school. But I was stubborn too, and I refused to stop. I eventually settled everything and was glad I had decided to work through the stress. College gave me something to focus on when I felt like nothing was going the way I wanted it to.
I graduated with a GPA of 3.5 in 2013. I found an entry level job at a newspaper and then moved to another position in the company after a year. Several months later, I saw a job posting that resonated with me. It was for a college admissions counselor at Chatfield and I knew I wanted that job. I sent in my resume, got an interview, got a second interview, and got hired. If I had not earned my Associate degree, I would not have been considered for the position. If I had not been stubborn and pushed through the hard times at college, I would probably have dropped out, thinking it was temporary, but who knows if I would have went back to complete my degree? I would not have what I have now.
I believe the only person who can do what is best for me is me. Going to college was what was best for me at that time. It has ended up being one of the best decisions I ever made. I have knowledge and skills that ensure that I can get by and take care of myself and my family. I can pay for a place to live, food to eat, a car to drive, clothes for my family and things my kids need. More than those things, I am a better role model for my kids. Now, they talk to me about what they want to do when they go to college. What was good for me, has turned out to be what was good for them, too.
-Lee Rose, Admissions Counselor