It’s time to go back to school

*Articles reflect the views of the author and or those quoted and do not necessarily represent the views of CCBC or The CCBC Connection.

Jason Wilkinson

Three years ago, the COVID-19 pandemic swept across the globe. Many people lost their jobs or worked from home, and instead of spending their days surrounded by coworkers, going out with friends, and socializing, people spent 24 hours a day with the people they lived with, or in some cases, alone. This allowed for a lot of self-reflection. One major question people had—what do I really want to be?

We are now entering the first semester since the official ending of the national emergency for COVID-19, so if you’ve been thinking about going back to school, I say do it.

According to the National Student Clearinghouse Research Center, in Fall 2020, community college enrollment had dropped 10.1% from the previous year, which is over 544,200 students. This number only continued to decrease until there had been a total loss of over a million students. A lot of this had to do with people quitting college due to financial hardship or unsteadiness in their intended field. However, in Spring 2023, there was a small—but important—uptick: 0.5%.

I first attended CCBC back in 2017. My major was teacher education. It was my dream since high school to teach English, and I knew without a doubt that’s what I wanted to do. Fast forward to fall 2019, I have this realization that it is, in fact, not what I wanted to do. Even worse, I had no idea what I wanted to do. I withdrew from my classes and set to figuring out what my actual dream was. Then COVID hit.

In the following couple of years, I grew complacent. I had a decent job and convinced myself that school was in the past for me. I felt like I was too old to go back and therefore should just learn to live with whatever life had planned for me.

Then I had another realization—I’m only going to get to live this one life. I shouldn’t settle for whatever life hands me—I should put in the effort to be what I want to be. The thing that drew me to teaching English in the first place wasn’t the teaching, it was the writing. I love to write. All of my heroes are writers. I read the news every day. I thought back to a note one of my professor’s had written on an essay I wrote the first time I was at CCBC: “Change your major and become a journalist.” At the time, I took it as a great compliment, but I thought I already knew what I wanted. Now I realized it was exactly what I had been looking for.

In fall 2022, I decided to go back to school at the age of 25. It’s been one of the greatest decisions I’ve made. I feel completely satisfied with my decision. It was overwhelming at first while getting back into the swing of things, but I feel it has been very rewarding.

It feels like a lot to ask an eighteen-year-old what they want to do for the rest of their life before they’ve gotten the chance to live as an adult. I was twenty when I first attended in 2017 and now looking back six years later, I realize I was a completely different person.

I believe that there are certain people who figure themselves out early, but for others it can take a bit more time, and that’s okay. I had a teacher my freshman year of high school who had worked in the printing industry for over 25 years and decided to go back to school to become a teacher in her late 40s.

In 2014, Grammy Award-winning producer Swizz Beatz was accepted to Harvard Business School at the age of 35. In a video shared before graduating in 2017, Swizz Beatz said “It’s never too late to get your education, further your education. Knowledge is power. It don’t have to be an Ivy league school. Just as long as you’re doing your thing, do your thing.”

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