Expectations of Returning to College

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When I think about what it must be like to walk down that aisle in cap and gown after receiving my degree, I get very excited. No one in my family has received a college degree, so when I complete my degree, I will be the first. Although my goal is achievable, my trek towards college completion has been a rough one met with many obstacles.

Shortly after enlisting in the United States Air Force 11 years ago, I found out about the Tuition Assistance Program, which pays 75% of my college tuition. I was eager to begin classes but soon found out college learning was more difficult, and required a much deeper level of commitment than my high school days. Though I have always been an active learner, easily grasping new techniques and information, I found it difficult in college. It wasn’t the material that was difficult; it was the fact that I’d rather be out with my friends than stuck in a classroom.

I completed my first course in winter of 1989 and decided to take a break for a while—a big mistake! I did nothing for the next year and a half and was soon transferred to England. The Gulf War ensued and before I knew it, two years had passed, and I didn’t have anything completed towards my college education. I remembered my goal of being the first in my family to receive a degree and walk that aisle of completion, and became aggressive taking classes. In April of 1994 I reached my goal by completing my Associate’s Degree in Applied Sciences in just a year and a half. I was thrilled, and even received a $250 scholarship from the Air Force.

My goal had always been to go on and complete a Bachelor’s Degree. For the next five years I struggled taking one class at a time while trying to juggle an Air Force career, and a family of four. Each time the Air Force moved me I had to transfer credits. I would get discouraged every time a university dropped credits because they didn’t fit the degree program I was enrolling in. There was no light at the end of...
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