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Tuesday, September 04, 2012

Gone are the days

I only applied to one college. I had no real interest in my higher education, so I set my sights on a university with open-enrollment. I spent my summer scraping together a couple thousand dollars of savings to take with me and shipped boxes of my stuff to a friend in Utah before moving to the residence halls.

I promptly spent about half my money on text books and meager rations my first week at Weber State University. The phone lines weren't hooked up yet in the new apartments, so I had to walk across the Dee Events Center parking lot to use a pay phone to call my parents and check in.

There was an undeniable rush as I headed to campus for my first day of classes. It doesn't matter if it's the first of fifth semester, a new schedule is exhilarating. The trek across campus, the hike up unfamiliar stairs, the arrival in a classroom full of half-empty chairs; all thrilling even without declaring a major.

As a new semester at my alma matter begins, I feel nostalgic for the days when it was mine to conquer. I appreciate the nights spent studying in the library, the times I was so tired I paced the stacks with book in hand to keep from falling asleep. I'm grateful for the time spent walking to and from campus, allowing me to clear my head and just take in the setting of my education. Yes, it was hard. Yes, I will be paying off my first two years of student loans UNTIL I DIE but it was so worth it.

When Kev and I talk about Aspen and college, I always do so with a sense of surety that she will go and that she will finish. Whenever she receives money as a gift, it goes right into her college fund. I want her to have her choice of schools someday. I want her to soak up information like a sponge and regurgitate it on standardized tests until she earns a diploma. I also want her to stay up all night talking to her roommates and going on spontaneous adventures.

Those years were some of the hardest and most rewarding of my life. A part of me is sad they are long-gone and that education will never be like that for me again.

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