Stuck in the Middle: Life as a Non-Degree Seeking Student

A few months before graduating high school, I was forced to face a tough reality: If I didn’t get at least 80 percent of my college costs covered, I would not be attending a university.

My parents, as hard as they work, were not in a position to contribute anything financially to my education. I was in the same boat as many students today are because I knew, at 17 years old, that I’d have to take on this responsibility fully on my own. Luckily, I received four different scholarships, one of which was a full academic scholarship to attend UTSA. Of course, I accepted.

I graduated in May of 2018 with a degree in Public Health with a concentration in Epidemiology and Disease Control and a Minor in Biology. As much as I am the the type of person that needs to have things in order, it was really hard for me to face the fact that, just months before graduating, I didn’t want to become a doctor anymore. Panic struck as I began feeling that I just wasted four years of my life and a full scholarship on a subject I was now completely disinterested in.

My brain told me for so long to pursue a career that I and my family would be proud of, without listening to my heart and what I actually wanted to do. With true friends, I stopped procrastinating and looked into programs that would help me change paths. Today, I am a non-degree seeking student a Northwest Vista pursuing a career in Communications.

At one point, this felt like a huge step backwards for me. After all, I had just gotten my degree and now I would be back at a community college taking introductory classes at the same level as high school graduates. On top of that, I would get no financial aid because of my classification. It was really difficult feeling like I was behind compared to my peers. Eventually, I stopped feeling sorry for myself, paid for my classes, applied for jobs I could learn in, and got hired (somehow) for a position that I don’t even think I was qualified for yet.

To sum up my experiences, I’ve learned that 1) As long as you’re working towards something, you’re never behind. 2) If you love what you study, you won’t regret your degree. 3) Take chances applying for jobs, even if you feel you’re not qualified yet.

By NVC Student Jasmine Valadez