By: Emily Pusey
The college experience can vary from person to person according to someone’s demographics and goals and how that can shape them into the person they become in the future.
Not everyone’s college experience is going to be a copy of one another’s. Depending on who you are and what you want to achieve in life, a college experience may only take someone part of the way.
“College for me was extremely boring. For high school, I attended a technical school which was very hands-on learning. Then when I switched over to college, everything went online and basically to a format where you teach yourself,” Patrick Bradford said.
Bradford is a 19-year-old college dropout who attended Delaware Tech and dropped out after his first semester in December 2021. Only two years out of high school, Bradford has managed to find a full-time job that pays well, considering his age.
“I believe that college is not worth it. I dropped out after my first semester and started working full-time in an automotive shop. Now only two years out of high school, I’m making five figures,” Bradford said.
Bradford’s experience goes to show that college wasn’t the way to go after high school. Currently, he is working full-time at Rehoboth Auto Repair in Rehoboth Beach.
Logan Thawley, a 20-year-old student at Delaware Tech’s Dover Campus, shares her college experiences.
“Before COVID-19, I was excited about college and had many art schools lined up and ready to tour. But during and after the pandemic, my ambition to go to college fell off and I barely even applied anywhere,” said Thawley.
A Montclair State University study has shown that the mental health of college students has been greatly impacted since the pandemic.
“Most reported being more depressed or down, three-quarters of the sample reported feeling more anxious, with uncontrollable worry. Sixty-eight percent reported sleep problems, and – this is most concerning – 60% reported feeling hopeless,” said Masia Warner, who’s a lead author of the study and professor of Psychology at Montclair.
“At a community college, my experience has been somewhat an extension of high school except with the pressure of money and paying fees. It has been somewhat easy and allowed me to not be too overwhelmed with everything in my life.” She said.
Other than the pressures of money and the impact the pandemic, Thawley has clearly expressed her college experience has felt balanced.
“I think it has become quite common enough that you don’t necessarily need a higher education to get the job you need,” Thawley said. Thawley is expected to graduate in her Fall 2023 semester with her Associate in Advertising Design.
How could their experience be so different from the rest though? Well, Crystal Ponder has a few things to say about just how different a college experience can be for a wife and mother of two kids.
“I had to sacrifice a lot, looking back I wish I hadn’t made so much sacrifice. My children grew up before my eyes could realize it and things got put behind like housework, my hobbies, and attending events that involved my children like award ceremonies.” Ponder said.
Crystal Ponder attended Delaware Tech’s Owens campus in 2014 and just recently graduated from Wilmington University in 2019 with her bachelor's degree in Business Management. She stated that this wasn’t the first time she tried attending college as she did go to State Seminole Community College in Oklahoma after graduating high school.
“Well, I had two. After high school I went to campus each day and met people, I was also a part of the cheerleading team for my school. In 2014, I was working full time, had a husband and two kids and it took me longer to finish than expected.” Ponder said.
“It’s what I thought I should do after high school to educate myself. The money to pay for it was an issue, however, and that's when I joined the military and put college on hold until 2014.” Ponder said. Ponder served in the U.S. Military Army for five years and fought during the 2003 Invasion of Iraq.
Ponder now works as a scheduling manager at Harrison Nursing Home in Georgetown, Delaware, and urges parents who may be in college now to always know when to take their time.
A college experience can be different for everyone and can not be summarized so simply. From mothers to college dropouts, college is not a straight and linear path for everybody.
Depending on who you are, what you value, and what you want to do with your life depends on the kind of experience college can give you. No matter what road people go down during college, there is always an opportunity for success.