Wednesday, May 09, 2007

The Smartest Stupid Thing That I've Ever Done

If you follow Malnurtured Snay's blog, you know that he is about to graduate from Towson University with an English degree. In fact, he'll be celebrating this accomplishment by attending graduation commando with his tassel tied in a most inappropriate manner. When the dean hands him the diploma on stage, I suggest that he make the sheepskin exchange a quid pro quo proposition, to liven things up.

Regardless, Snay's situation takes me back to 1997 when I was a drunken, chemistry major at TU (back, then it used to be called Towson State). Almost 10 years ago to the week, I was a senior who was about to graduate. I had all all the general university requirements fulfilled and no final exam bore enough weight to flunk me. My only outstanding obligation for graduation, was the completion of a 2 credit independent research class, in which I was enrolled. In fact, I'd done the lab work, which consisted of some type on organic synthesis that escapes me. All I had to do was write the lab report, submit it, and my ticket was punched. The professor was supercool and he liked me, so I probably could have written it in crayon on maxipads and graduated.

I had several acquaintances that had graduated and were out in the "real world". When I contacted them for job leads, I kept hearing the same story: "All I can find is laboratory technician jobs through temporary services--poor pay and no benefits. My 6 month grace period is over, so student loans are killing me." Even though I had "real world" lab experience, I found the same was true. So much so, that I had my temp job lined up for June 1. The idea was that I'd graduate, take a week off, and report to temp hell.

With over 140 credits and only 2 credits away from a BS in chemistry, I pulled the plug. I took all my finals, but never turned in that lab report. The professor gave me an extension and I agreed to it, but I had no intention of doing it. In fact, the day of last final was the last day I stepped foot on Towson University property. As you might imagine all of my friends and family thought I was entirely insane. I had to patiently remind both parents that since they didn't pay for college, they had no right to bitch. I must have heard the word dumbfuck a thousand times that month. Considering that I had $20,000 in student loan debt, no degree, and only an $12/hour lab-flunky job going for me, they might have had a point. Instead, I told myself I knew what I was doing and ignored them--the way I always do.

What I knew was that once I had a bachelor's degree, I couldn't get any loans for a more lucrative degree. In other words, I'd have been stuck living check to check for years, praying to get a job with benefits. However, with no degree I could continue to receive federally subsidized loans. Thus, I hung around Baltimore for the rest of the summer and partied like a god. Once it got cold, I went to my father's hometown in the Midwest and worked for a year, while scoping out the local universities. Finally, I enrolled and completed an engineering degree and I finally finished the chemistry degree, too.

Although I may have accumulated much more student loan debt, I am making close to double what I'd be making if I'd finished the TU degree.
I've paid off most of the aforementioned loans and I am in a field that I love. If I choose to be a temp in this field, it's called contracting and it pays well. The bottom line is that quitting Towson University was the smartest thing that I've ever done.

(That's not to say that M. Snay should consider anything of the sort. In fact, if he does, I'll break my long standing Blogger Happy Hour avoidance policy and administer some tough love via tire iron.)


17 Comments:

At 10:36 PM, Blogger Sassy Blondie said...

I think I love you...

Unlike you, I got two degrees and about 15 years of student loan debt that will take me that long to pay off. BUT...I love what I do. Too bad it doesn't pay as well as yours...

 
At 11:09 PM, Blogger Serena Joy said...

It sounds like you made the right decision for you. And in the end, that's what matters. When you love what you do, everything else falls into place.

 
At 11:10 PM, Blogger Mighty Dyckerson said...

What a fascinating story.

(Somebody wake me when he's done patting himself on the back...)

 
At 11:24 PM, Blogger Malnurtured Snay said...

Well, shiiiit, in that case I will because I'd love some TFG iron lurve. :)

 
At 4:05 AM, Blogger Scary Monster said...

The logic of the ridiculous never ceases to amaze me. Like paying farmers NOT to grow food.

Loopholes in reality.
stomp!

 
At 4:51 AM, Blogger tfg said...

sassy-Well, I haven't gone to grad school yet. I'm sure that will earn me a lifetime of debt.

SJ-Very true. Although the pole dancing thing didn't work out for me.

dyck-You think? Wait until I post about how I discovered gravity and the female orgasm. That was a good day.

snay-If you did that, there would be people lining up to kick your ass.

scary-I know, that should have never worked out. I'm told that they've changed the financial aid rules to prevent this very thing. I'm not sure why, they've made a ton of interest off of me.

 
At 5:11 AM, Blogger Tickersoid said...

The equivolent over here, is to qualify then fail to get a well paid job. You don't have to pay back the student loan until you earn at least £15k. Mean while you enter into a volentry debt agreement (gov' scheme) where by most of the loan is written off and the rest paid back over 5 years, at the end of which you are debt free and have no credit issues.
Kids have to get in quick before the government realise they've screwed up.

 
At 11:49 AM, Anonymous Lori said...

tfg--if you were to break your long standing happy hour avoidance I'd actually CONSIDER driving out of the City to attend......

 
At 11:55 AM, Blogger anonymouscoworker said...

I'm glad to have read that you finally got a degree. People who don't have a degree are clearly nothing more than hairless apes, unqualified for even the simplest of tasks. How on Earth could someone without a degree complete the mindless busywork that comprises 99% of office jobs?

 
At 12:51 PM, Blogger Diesel said...

Just goes to show you, don't listen to people who don't know the details of your life as well as you do. I never do.

 
At 1:39 PM, Blogger she said...

you'll love grad school. the most expensive and irritating holding pen on earth.

 
At 2:50 PM, Anonymous lori said...

whatever anyone does..DO NOT--I Repeat---DO NOT get a degree in Fine Art!

 
At 6:06 PM, Blogger tfg said...

tickersoid- God, the British are so much smarter than us.

lori- I'd hate to break the streak now. Besides no self-respecting over 30 year old has any business being in the Crease while Towson is still in session.

ACW-I don't make the rules. Considering what I specialize in isn't even covered in school, I don't like them much, either.

diesel-Often it's hard to be objective about your own situation. However, in this case I screwed up in reverse and it worked.

she-If I go it will part-time at night. Preferably, on my employers dime, but I may have some trouble convincing them that a Master's in Reproductive Studies is really job-related.

lori2-No worries there. I've failed nearly every art and music class I've ever taked.

 
At 10:12 PM, Blogger Gucci Muse said...

I bet all that college drinking was what gave you chemistry.............

 
At 7:58 AM, Blogger Legaleagle said...

I know a guy who got his degree in economics. Now he owns a bar. Talk about economics.

 
At 2:34 PM, Blogger karla said...

By "partied like a God," I imagine you loosening your tie, taking 6 of the 10 pencils out of your breast pocket, cranking up the volume on Star Wars II on TV in your apartment, and drinking a 4 pack of wine coolers alone. Am I close?

 
At 8:53 AM, Blogger Katherine said...

So, has your family admitted your greatness and bowed down to your superiority?

 

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