Going back to school: A shock to the system

This is a guest post contributed by Heather Johnson, who is an industry critic on the subject of entrepreneurial finance. She invites your feedback at heatherjohnson2323 at gmail dot com.

I graduated from college four years ago and bounced from job to job. I’m not here to complain about the past four years; they were a blast. But I wasn’t making any money. I worked in sports media behind the camera. Waiting for my break to come, I saw all my friends landing great-paying jobs and moving out of their parents’ houses. I wanted to find where I belonged.

I decided to go back to school to get certified to teach high school English. The prospects of going back to school scared the shit out of me. In my undergrad years I did enough work to satisfy my parents and got a 3.0 GPA, but that was as a full-time student with nothing to do but drink beers and have fun. I’m now going to back to school full-time while working full-time. How am I coping? Let’s say the struggle is rejuvenating, if not scary as hell.

First of all, I was nervous about actually going back to a classroom. This fear was erased when I found out I could take my classes online. This made my life so easy. I never had to make my way to campus at a certain time. I could do my work at any time of the night during the week. This presented a new problem: discipline. While going to campus everyday would have been a drag and made me make adjustments with my job, I would have known what to expect from attending class on a regular basis. Online courses, while providing a major convenience, demanded that I make my own schedule.

This proved to be a grueling proposition. It became so easy to slough off work and only tend to it when it seemed absolutely necessary. This worked fine for the first couple weeks of the semester as the assignments for my four courses were spread out. However, as mid-terms arrived I was in a world of hurt. All of a sudden, I had to get caught up on everything I had avoided. This would never have happened if I had to attend class regularly and participate to a satisfactory level.

But I kept my eyes on the prize: salvation. That’s right. I know I want to be a teacher and I had to look deep within myself to remind me of why. I’ve had wonderful and horrendous experiences with teachers over the years. I want to take all the good I’ve experienced and deliver that to my students. I know what a difference it made when I had a teacher that I could approach and talk about school work and life. This only happened when I respected my teachers. I want to be this teacher.

So I plodded along and got through mid-terms relatively unscathed. I took the spring break vacation to get completely caught up and even got a little bit ahead. I set a strict schedule that I’ve adhered to ever since. I come home from work at three in the afternoon and do my schoolwork until seven. This still gives me my nights to go out and spend time with my girlfriend and friends and to just relax.

I’m well on my way to becoming a teacher in the fall. Soon, I will be standing in front of my own classroom and talking with my students. I’m ecstatic. I know I’m making the right decision because it feels right. I don’t need other people to approve of my decision. Sure, it helps to get reinforcement, but there’s no better reinforcement than my own positive feedback.

First of all, thank you for the story, Heather.

I found it a nice twist when Heather said she decided to become a teacher after “seeing all my friends landing great-paying jobs.” I believe teachers play an important role for the youth and ultimately, (future) society. Today, they are simply taken too lightly (and underpaid). That is why it is amazing to hear Heather made the choice to change and is going through the hurdle and challenges to get there. Let’s cheer for her. And don’t forget to leave her your feedback at heatherjohnson2323 at gmail dot com.

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