Take it from me: Advice from a 31-year-old college student

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Pam Paz

Pam Paz

Do what makes you happy, but do it the right way.

Viewpoint by Pam Paz


I don’t normally consider myself old, until I start thinking many students who attend this college were born when I was in seventh grade.

It’s safe to assume I’m not your average college student. I’m considered a non-traditional student.

I realize many students at this college are non-traditional students; some were born around the time I was born and some well before.

So, for those of you who were born in the mid-1990s, let me share with you some lessons I have learned along the way.

Do not take your education for granted.

Go to class, pay attention and make good grades. Give a solid effort toward what you are doing because, in the end, you’re only cheating yourself.

When I was in high school, I ditched class, partied with the older crowd and made poor choices.

I didn’t go to college right after high school and here I am, 13 years later, juggling full-time work and full-time school on top of maintaining a house, which I don’t own.

It’s not easy waking up every morning 5-6 a.m. after 20-hour days. Doing homework is the last thing I want to do when I get home from work between 10 p.m. and midnight. But it has to get done, so I do it.

Remember there is no operating manual to life. There is no right or wrong way to discover what the future holds for you.

Before I graduated high school, I was accepted to the University of Texas at San Antonio. I planned on being a psychology major because I wanted to be a psychologist.

At the time, I was not mentally or financially prepared to go to college, so instead I started working.

For seven years, I poured myself into my job, not really ever thinking I would do anything else. When I started seeing the young, 16-year-olds I hired finally graduating from college, I decided it was time to make a change in my life.

When I enrolled at this college in the fall of 2011, I declared my major to be psychology, but quickly realized it wasn’t for me.

It wasn’t until I was 30 that I figured out what I wanted to do when I grew up, and it’s OK. I’m so glad I discovered this later in my life, as opposed to being 22 and rushed into a career I would hate.

Do what is right for you and not what others think you should do.

On the other hand, if you know what you want and you’re sure it’s going to make you happy, go for it. But make sure to do it the right way.

Take it from me, being a 31-year old full-time employee and full-time student, having to pay my own bills and wash my laundry and clean my house is no walk in the park.

I’m not complaining, because everything I’m doing right now is preparing me for a better future.

I realize I’m not a young buck anymore, and I don’t have some of the same opportunities as my younger counterparts, but I encourage them to take advantage of every educational opportunity they have right now.

Everything worked out for me, but if you can attain your degree while you are younger, you won’t face all the demands I now face.

In the end, if I had a chance to do it all over again — working, management experience, meeting my fiancé — I wouldn’t change a thing.


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